ABP CVoter Survey: What Could Change in 5 States Before Elections?
A lot changed between the first Opinion Poll and final results in Bihar, could this happen in 5 poll bound states?
The ABP CVoter survey for the upcoming elections to four states and one union territory was released earlier this week. It has predicted reasonably decisive leads for the ruling NDA in Assam, LDF in Kerala and TMC in West Bengal while predicting a change of guard in Tamil Nadu and a close contest with a slight lead for the Opposition NDA in Puducherry.
However, the elections are still about two-and-a-half to three months away and a lot could change till then.
This article will look at two aspects:
1. The recent example of the Bihar elections, when a great deal changed between the first opinion poll and the final results.
2. What are the X-factors that one should look out for in the four states and one union territory.
How Things Changed in Bihar
The first ABP CVoter opinion poll for Bihar released in the last week of September, around six weeks before polling, predicted 141-161 seats for the NDA and 64-84 for the Mahagathbandhan.
In terms of vote share, it predicted 45 percent votes for NDA and 34.1 percent for the Mahagathbandhan.
In the exit poll, conducted after the last phase of polling, ABP CVoter predicted 104-128 seats for the NDA and 108-131 for the Mahagathbandhan.
In terms of vote share, it predicted 37.7 percent votes for NDA and 36.3 percent votes for the Mahagathbandhan.
The final results were within the range predicted by CVoter's exit poll.
The NDA won 125 seats with a vote share of 37.2 percent.
The Mahagathbandhan won 110 seats with a vote share of 37.2 percent.
Therefore between the first opinion poll six weeks before polling and the final results, NDA's vote share fell by close to 8 percentage points while that of the Mahagathbandhan increased by three percentage points.
Since CVoter's final exit poll proved to be right in the end, one can say that the change took place due to a genuine shift on the ground during the course of the campaign and not some sampling error.
What Could Change in The Poll Bound States?
One development that took place barely a couple of days after the opinion poll was that the Congress announced its alliance with the AIUDF, CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and Anchalik Gana Morcha.
This is likely to alter equations to a great extent. While the Congress and AIUDF may gain by coming together in districts like Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Hailakandi and Karimganj, which are AIUDF's core areas, many say Congress could lose some support among Assamese Hindu voters.
Jailed leader Akhil Gogoi's newly formed Raijor Dal and All Assam Students' Union formed Assam Jatiya Parishad have formed an alliance and could emerge as an important new force among Assamese speaking voters, especially the Youth. And this new front could end up eating into the vote share of both BJP and Congress but more importantly, of the Asom Gana Parishad.
According to the CVoter poll, the vote share difference between the NDA and Congress is about eight percent. This is before the Congress' alliance with AIUDF and Left was finalised. If AIUDF's projected 8.2 percent and the Left's vote is added, the UPA could be at par with NDA.
Of course that doesn't necessarily mean a victory for UPA as it is quite possible that the Congress-AIUDF alliance wins seats in the latter's core areas with 60-70 percent votes but falls short in other areas.
The CVoter survey has predicted that the LDF could make history by becoming the first government in several decades to be voted back to power.
It has predicted that LDF could get 41.6 percent votes and 85 seats while the UDF could get 34.6 percent votes and 53 seats. The BJP is predicted to get 15.3 percent votes and others 8.2 percent.
Now, it is not clear who he 8.2 percent 'others' are. Last time 'others' got just 2.8 percent votes in Kerala and there isn't a history of parties outside the LDF, UDF and NDA getting a sizable chunk of votes.
So it is likely that much of the 'others' vote could shift to either of the three main fronts.
Then, a few days after the opinion poll, the Congress announced that former CM Oommen Chandy will be leading its campaign in Kerala.
Chandy had been sidelined in state politics after his appointment as national general secretary. This has harmed the party's support, especially among Christians.
With Chandy leading the campaign, a chunk of the Christian voters which had drifted away from the Congress could return.
Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
Tamil Nadu is the only state where the CVoter has predicted a two-thirds majority. According to it the DMK led alliance, which includes the Congress, MDMK, VCK and IUML could win 162 out of 234 seats and a vote share of 41.1 percent, compared to 64 seats and 28.7 percent vote share of the AIADMK-BJP led alliance.
A major development that is likely to take place is the release of Sasikala Natarajan. This is a factor that could cut both ways. On one hand, it is expected that this could lead to a BJP brokered truce between the AIADMK and AMMK. The AMMK is expected to get 7.8 percent votes according to CVoter so this could shift to the AIADMK led alliance.
On the other hand, there are many who don't like Sasikala Natarajan so that could lead a section of AIADMK voters to either stay away or shift to another party.
Then, there are pinpricks in the DMK-led alliance as well, with MDMK and VCK deciding not to contest on the DMK symbol. There is also likely to be a tussle over seat sharing, with the DMK insistent of playing the big brother in the alliance.
However, it needs to be admitted that if the alliances stay the way they are, then a DMK win in Tamil Nadu is the safest prediction to make among all the poll bound states.
Puducherry, however, is a different matter. Here CVoter has predicted a defeat for the ruling Congress-DMK alliance and a win for the AIADMK-AINRC-BJP alliance.
Soon after the opinion poll, the DMK and Congress alliance has begun to unravel which could make matters difficult for the ruling Congress. But the DMK is likely to stake claim to the Vanniyar community vote which is the vote bank of Opposition AINRC leader N Rangaswamy.
So, both a split or a reunion between DMK and Congress could have uncertain consequences.
The most fascinating state this election season is West Bengal. As of now, CVoter has predicted 158 seats for the TMC with a vote share of 43 percent with the BJP getting 102 seats and 37.5 percent votes.
It has also predicted 11.8 percent votes and 30 seats for the Left-Congress alliance.
The day the opinion poll data was made public, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that she will be contesting from the Nandigram seat, that is presently held by rebel TMC and now BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari. The BJP was counting on a complete sweep of the Jangalmahal region in which Nandigram lies.
Now, with Mamata Banerjee entering the electoral arena in that region, a complete BJP sweep may not be that easy.
Another X-Factor could be the Left-Congress vote. Some observers suggest that as the elections approach, this could reduce with the TMC and BJP gaining.
Then Abbas Siddiqui of Furfura Sharif, who is emerging as a new player among a section of Muslims, is yet to open his cards. He is said to be having negotiations with the Left-Congress alliance, AIMIM, TMC and even the BJP.
Staying with Muslim voters, it is possible that the prospect of BJP coming to power could compel Muslim voters to consolidate behind the TMC instead of voting for the Left-Congress alliance or AIMIM.
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