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Still Unclear


A joke making the rounds on social media is about five-star hotels celebrating the exit poll results for the latest round of assembly elections. The suggestion is that the possibly close results may lead to horse-trading. It is, indeed, a fact that political parties have already begun contacting their probable winners to ensure they do not go astray.

With assembly elections being bunched up, the gap between voting and counting days has grown quite long in recent years. This naturally leads to much anxiety and speculation. The exit polls, thus, fill in with a rough idea of the results. And, everybody can strategise for what is to come.

The big question, however, is about the exit polls’ accuracy. With several ‘professional’ agencies conducting the polls for different channels, the predictions are spread over the entire range of possibilities. Naturally, one or the other gets it right, thereby maintaining the credibility of the process for the future. There are only one or two that have a high rate of consistency, but also get it wrong on occasion.

If scientifically done against the template of a correct statistical model based on all the necessary data, exit polls can give a good idea of what’s coming. They falter when there is a close fight and the result is decided by very small margins. When there are clear waves it is possible for even a person on the street to know what the verdict would be. In the complex politics of the present, though, it is considerably more difficult to catch the trend.

The predictions for the current round of elections, therefore, are a mixed bag. Setting aside the outliers, most polls are giving MP to the BJP, and also Rajasthan. The BRS is probably losing in Telangana to the Congress, but the BJP and the AIMIM could play spoilers. The Congress could hold on in Chhattisgarh, while Mizoram is expected to give a split mandate. It is being concluded by experts that the BJP will retain its hold on the Hindi Heartland, while making some progress in other regions. The usual ‘Operation Lotus’ could come into play where the voter has been indecisive. The Congress is expecting to sweep four states, which would give it a big boost for the coming Lok Sabha elections, while increasing its clout in national politics. Particularly when it comes to negotiating with other members of the INDI Alliance. The exit polls, therefore, have left a lot of space for conjecture.