Why Yogi Adityanath is Best CM in 1 Poll, Below Average in Another

One of the two recent polls – India Today Karvy or ABP CVoter – seems to be following a faulty methodology.

4 min read
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

For the fourth time in a row, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath became "India's best chief minister" according to India Today-Karvy's Mood of the Nation survey whose findings were made public on 21 January.

Barely a week earlier, the ABP CVoter State of the Nation poll ranked Adityanath as the 15th most popular chief minister in terms of Net Satisfaction, well below the national average. Instead, it was Naveen Patnaik of Odisha who emerged on top, according to the ABP CVoter poll.

So, two questions arise from these two surveys:

  1. Why do the two surveys have such divergent results regarding Yogi Adityanath?
  2. How popular is Adityanath actually?

Let's try and answer these questions.

A Question of Methodology

Many people who criticised the findings of the India Today-Karvy survey have focussed on the sample size – the ABP CVoter had a sample of slightly above 30,000 while the India Today-Karvy survey had a sample size of 12,232.

Experts like Dr Sanjay Kumar of Centre for Study of Developing Societies has said on earlier occasions that a sample size of 12,000 is actually not bad for a national survey, provided that it is representative in terms of gender, caste, income level, religion, literacy, age and geographical distribution.

The problem isn't so much in the sample size but in the methodology.

The ABP CVoter survey asks respondents whether they are "very much satisfied", "somewhat satisfied" or "not at all satisfied" with the CM of their state. This is the correct approach.

The India Today-Karvy poll on the other hand, asks respondents "who is the best CM in the country" according to them.

The method employed by India Today-Karvy is not very scientific for three reasons:

  • There is a limit to which people would be able to comment on the performance of the CM of another state. Even those who are living as migrants outside would at the most be well versed with two or three states.
  • A lot would then depend on media coverage, which disproportionately focuses on certain CMs, while completely ignoring others. For instance, few would dispute that UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray get more media coverage than say Jharkhand's Hemant Soren, Himachal Pradesh's Jairam Thakur or Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma, among others.
  • CMs from more populous states are at a natural advantage. So, the Nagaland CM may have the support of 80 percent of the respondents from his state, it would count for much less than even 10 percent support for the UP CM.

Senior journalist Shivam Vij pointed out the problem with this method in an earlier article, "This ranking is not a reflection of a chief minister’s popularity within their state. A CM could be doing very well in his/her state but could still rank poorly in a nationwide poll where every chief minister is in the race".

The ABP CVoter survey is a far more accurate reflection of a CM’s popularity as people decide only for their own CM.

In the CVoter poll, 44.7 percent respondents in UP said they are "very much satisfied" with Adityanath as CM, 22.8 percent said they are somewhat satisfied while 32.1 percent said they are "not at all satisfied".

His net approval stood at 35.4. With the national average for CMs being 42.8, it is clear that Adityanath has below average popularity in his state.

CMs of 14 other states, including seven from the BJP are ahead of him and only seven are below him.

What Does This Say About Adityanath's Popularity?

What the India Today survey indicates is that Adityanath is probably popular among BJP supporters across India. This is despite being below average compared to other CMs in their respective states, according to the CVoter poll.

This is not surprising. Adityanath may be getting support from two sets of respondents in the India Today poll:

  1. BJP supporters in non-BJP ruled states: If BJP voters in say Telangana, West Bengal, Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh are asked "who is the best CM in India?" it is quite likely that they would choose Adityanath over other BJP CMs like Vijay Rupani, Jairam Thakur, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Pema Khandu, Biplab Deb, Sarbananda Sonowal, Manohar Lal Khattar or BS Yeddyurappa, simply given his higher national profile. The only real competition would probably be from MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
  2. Even in BJP-ruled states, it is quite possible that there may be BJP supporters who would prefer Adityanath over their sitting CM simply because he has the image of being ideologically more pro-Hindutva and his status as a Mahant.

So, in a survey like India Today-Karvy's, while Adityanath may be getting support from BJP supporters across India, non-BJP voters may be split between regional leaders like Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Uddhav Thackeray, Pinarayi Vijayan etc, besides the four Congress CMs.

It is clear that, his popularity among BJP supporters goes beyond his own state and there is also a clear PR campaign being carried out to project him as a national leader.

In some ways, this is similar to the pre-2014 period in which the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had captured the imagination of BJP supporters outside Gujarat as well.

Ironically, this makes Adityanath more of a threat for his peers in the BJP itself, than for the Opposition.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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