What Does the Large Variation in Exit Poll Outcomes in Uttar Pradesh Mean?

Most of the exit polls give a clear majority to the BJP

3 min read

If the exit polls are to be believed, a resurgent Samajwadi Party (SP) alliance has failed to stop the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut in Uttar Pradesh.

Most of the exit polls give a clear majority to the BJP and if it holds good on March 10, the party will buck the trend of nearly more than three decades of state not electing the same government successively.


The India Today-Axis predicted a thumping majority for the ruling party giving 288-326 seats, indicating that the anti-incumbency and broader issues of unemployment, stray cattle and farm woes could not make any major dent to the BJP's poll prospects. News 24-Chanakya placed BJP at a comfortable 294 while Times Now-Veto and ABP-C Voter gave BJP a clear majority with 225 and 228-244 seats respectively.

However if one has to consider the combined seat variation in the lower and the upper ranges in the above exit polls, it stands at around 100 seats. Similar variation is reflected in the combined exit poll outcomes for Samajwadi Party where the prediction is that the alliance could win 71 - 151 seats, failing to even come close to the magic figure by a long shot.

What Does Variation Reflect?

Experts believe the variation is largely due to the different vote share projected by these exit polls and the bipolar nature of the contest which was three-cornered last time.

"All have different vote share estimates which will lead to difference in seat projection for the two parties. Some are saying that BJP is holding onto its 2017 vote share but given the bipolar contest in the state, it does not essentially mean the vote share will translate to 300 plus seats," Pranav Gupta, a research scholar at UC Berkeley said.

Another aspect of these exit polls, according to experts, is the accuracy of the sample which they claim is hard to predict unless the raw data of the sampling is available.

"In any survey, credibility depends on the sample size, the basis of sampling and if the sampling was representative or not. Sample should be representative of the population. For example if there are 10 percent Muslims and 90 percent Hindus in any constituency and if your sample size is 10, you should speak to one Muslim and 9 Hindus," Rajan Pandey, a political analyst and co-author of Battleground UP said.

Further, the person you speak to should be a representative of the public and not be biased or sympathetic towards any party in any form. It is hard to comment on the accuracy of the exit polls unless one has access to the raw data, Pandey said.

Another factor which, as per many election pundits, adds to the discrepancy in the opinion and exit polls is that BJP voters are largely considered outspoken while anti-BJP voters are discreet when it comes to revealing which party they would vote for.


BJP Upbeat, Opposition - Wait for 10 March

While BJP spokesperson were all smiles on the national television debates soon after the exit polls predicted a clear majority, opposition is taking the exit poll outcomes with a pinch of salt.

"What will the exit polls do when the votes were swept away by Koko (a bird). Alliance workers have struggled a lot. They now need to just peacefully cooperate in the counting process," Jayant Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) President said.

SP ally Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party rejected the outcomes of the exit poll. Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar claimed the alliance is all set to form the government.

"We don't agree with exit polls. It is fake. We have worked for the public and they are with us. On 10 March, by 10 am in the first round of counting, we will be leading on 400 seats out of 403," Om Prakash Rajbhar, national president of Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party said.

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