ABP-CVoter Survey's Biggest Takeaway: AAP Is Harming Congress in 3 States
According to CVoter, Kejriwal scores higher than Rahul Gandhi as PM choice in 4 out of 5 states, except UP.
The Quint DAILY
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The first round of the ABP-CVoter survey for the upcoming Assembly elections has predicted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could win four out of the five states going to polls early next year: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur.
In Punjab, the survey has predicted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could fall just short of a majority.
Now several things could change between now and the elections, which are about five months away.
But even if one takes the survey at face value, the big picture is not so much the projected 4/5 score for the BJP. It is the survey's prediction that the AAP is causing serious harm to the Congress in three states and, as a result, nationally. According to the survey, the AAP could end up defeating the Congress in Punjab and also playing spoiler in Uttarakhand and Goa.
In Goa, for instance, the survey predicts that the AAP could replace the Congress as the main Opposition party.
According to the opinion poll, the AAP could poll 22.2 percent votes, compared to the Congress' 15.4 percent.
In terms of seats, the survey says that the AAP can win 4-8 seats, marginally ahead of the Congress at 3-7 seats.
Another data point from the survey seems to reflect AAP's rise: The question of preferred CM candidate.
According to the survey, 13.8 percent respondents replied "anyone from AAP" as their CM choice. This is more than three Congress candidates put together: Ravi Naik (4.5 percent), Digambar Kamat (4.5 percent) and Luizinho Faleiro (3.7 percent).
The survey indicates that this could be more due to national factors than state-level factors.
From a national point of view, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has a negative satisfaction rating of -16.5 in Goa. The State Leader of Opposition fares better at 11.3 percent but this is still much lower that other poll bound states like Uttar Pradesh (26.1) and Manipur (28) and the national average of 15.
In terms of PM choice, Rahul Gandhi at 20.7 percent lags marginally behind the AAP's Arvind Kejriwal at 22.2 percent in Goa. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well ahead at 48.5 percent.
In Uttarakhand, the survey projects that the AAP seems to be capturing a big chunk of the anti-incumbency vote instead of the Congress and as a result the BJP could return to power despite having three CMs in the last five years.
According to the survey, the AAP could secure a vote share of 14.6 percent, gaining at the expense of BJP (-3.4 percent), Congress (-0.9 percent) and others (-10.3 percent). Uttarakhand has largely had a two-party polity with a few smaller players and the BJP's loss has always been the Congress' gain and vice versa. Due to this, the state has never repeated an incumbent government.
In Uttarakhand, the weakness of the Congress at the national level is even more stark, going by the survey.
According to the poll, Rahul Gandhi has a negative approval rating of -25.6 in Uttarakhand, much worse than all the other poll bound states.
In terms of PM choice, Kejriwal at 14.9 percent is ahead of Rahul Gandhi at 10.4 percent. PM Modi is at 46.5 percent.
One interesting finding of the survey is that in contrast to the Congress' projected vote share and the negative approval rating of its national leadership, its state leadership is popular.
According to the survey, 30.6 percent people picked Harish Rawat as their CM choice, ahead of any leader from the BJP or AAP.
However, it seems that the Congress has been unable to benefit from Rawat's popularity as he's busy firefighting for the party in Punjab.
The decision to make the tallest leader from one poll bound state the in-charge of another poll-bound stage defied logic and raises questions on the party's decision making process.
But this data point around Rawat's popularity does indicate that the picture could change closer to elections if the Congress officially declares him as its CM candidate. The shift of anti-incumbency votes to the AAP can be prevented.
Punjab is a different case from Goa and Uttarakhand as here the AAP is the main Opposition party and the Congress is in power. Here the AAP is gaining mainly due to the unpopularity of the Congress government led by Captain Amarinder Singh as well as the Shiromani Akali Dal's failure to remove the public's negativity towards it.
The survey predicts that the Congress could witness a decline of close to 10 percentage points, from 38.5 percent in 2017 to a projected 28.8 percent. In contrast, the AAP's vote share could increase from 23.7 percent to 35.1 percent.
According to the survey, Kejriwal is more popular than any of the Congress leaders in the state as well as nationally.
Despite his assurance that the CM will be a Sikh from Punjab, Kejriwal emerged as the most preferred choice as CM at 21.6 percent. He is followed by Sukhbir Badal at 18.8 percent, Captain Amarinder Singh at 17.9 percent, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann at 16.1 percent and state Congress chief Navjot Sidhu at 15.3 percent. Mann and Sidhu appear to be suffering because of their parties not naming a CM candidate clearly.
In Punjab, the unpopularity of the state government seems to be a bigger factor than the Congress' national situation. However, even in the national picture, Rahul Gandhi isn't popular in Punjab.
Kejriwal is the top PM choice in Punjab at 23.4 percent, compared to PM Narendra Modi at 12.4 percent and Rahul Gandhi at 4.9 percent. Former PM Manmohan Singh is the most popular PM choice from the Congress at 15.7 percent.
THE BIG PICTURE
These five state elections could be a crucial milestone that could shape the prospects of the government as well as Opposition in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
For the BJP, no doubt, Uttar Pradesh is the prize catch and the CVoter survey has predicted a comfortable win for the party there despite a reduced tally and an improved performance by the Samajwadi Party (SP).
From the Opposition's point of view, if the Congress does well and wins a couple of states, it would retain its position as the fulcrum of the Opposition.
However, if the CVoter survey comes true and the party fails to win a single state, then regional parties like TMC and AAP are likely to assert themselves more in the Opposition space.
The survey results should come as a wake up call for the Congress because ideally it would like to wrest states like Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur from the BJP. It is the main Opposition party in these states and the state governments haven't really performed spectacularly.
Uttarakhand in particular has seen three CMs in five years and there is a significant degree of anti-incumbency. Therefore, the Congress can still win it if it gets its act together and, as the survey suggests, project Harish Rawat as CM.
Additionally, the party would also like to retain Punjab. With the BJP out of the picture, Akalis still unpopular, and the AAP having suffered some desertions in the past, the election was the Congress' to lose. But the unpopularity of Captain Amarinder Singh and his unending feud with Navjot Sidhu seems to have brought the Opposition parties back into the game.
However, the big picture given by the survey is more worrying. Except for Uttar Pradesh, in all the other four states, Kejriwal is ahead of Rahul Gandhi in the PM choice rating. Kejriwal's lead over Rahul is 18.5 percentage points in Punjab, 6.2 percentage points in Manipur where AAP has very little presence, 4.5 points in Uttarakhand, and 1.5 points in Goa.
However in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi is ahead of Kejriwal by 2.9 points. Among the five states Rahul Gandhi has a negative approval rating in all states except Manipur. The survey points to a national vacuum in the Opposition space due to the Congress' internal problems. And as a result leaders like Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee are sensing an opportunity.
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