New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) The hits and misses of exit poll results over the past few years tell us that it’s better to take these surveys with a pinch of salt. For more often than not, the predictions of even the most meticulous of pollsters are likely to wobble when confronted with the actual choice made by the ever-unpredictable voter.
In the exit polls — done by professional agencies contracted by media organisations — during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the numbers predicted turned out to be way off the mark.
The 2014 elections brought Narendra Modi to power with a thunderous majority of 336 seats to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The BJP swept 282 of these 336 seats. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which made way for the NDA, was left adrift with a meagre 60 seats.
Now consider how the number-crunching pollsters fared in their predictions.
The exit polls — a survey of voters as they come out of the polling booths — conducted by the CNN-IBN-Lokniti-CSDS predicted 97 seats for the UPA and 276 for the NDA. It predicted 148 seats for the other parties.
India Today-Cicero predicted 115 seats for the UPA and 272 for the NDA. Further off the mark was the exit poll done by Times Now-ORG, which predicted a tally of 249-148 for the NDA-UPA, the two prime rivals.
The surveys done by ABP-Nielsen and India TV-CVoter were no help either. While the former predicted 274 seats for the NDA and 97 seats for the UPA, the latter placed its bets on the NDA getting 289 seats and the UPA 101 seats.
All these polls were conducted on May 12, 2014, the day the nine-phased polls ended.
NDTV-Hansa Research and CNN-IBN-CSDS, which conducted the poll two days later on May 14, were no wiser either, with the former giving 279 seats to the NDA and 103 seats to the UPA, and the latter predicting 280 seats to the NDA and 97 seats to the UPA.
The prediction that came the closest was one made by News 24-Chanakya, done on May 12, according to which the NDA was set for a huge victory with 326-354 seats and the UPA trailing at 61-79 seats. The survey predicted that the BJP would bag 277-305 seats.
On May 12, a Poll of Polls, or a meta-survey, also augured a result little more modest than what actually happened for the NDA. It predicted for the NDA 283 seats — missing the actual figure by more than 50 seats — and for the UPA 105 seats — according it nearly 50 more seats than it actually got.