Todays Chanakya hits bulls eye as others miss the mark

Written by ARCHNA SHUKLA | New Delhi | Updated: May 17 2014, 06:35am hrs
CHOnly agency to have predicted a clean sweep for BJP while its rivals chose to be more conservative.
He worships numbers and would never pollute their sanctity by mixing perceptions to the story they tell. And that, says Vinod Bajaj, is the secret to the repeated success of Today's Chanakya's in predicting election results not only in India but several countries across the world.

Not many would know that in 2010, three days before the polling in the UK, Today's Chankya had predicted that the Labour Party rule in the UK seems to be numbered. The results, indeed, bore out the stand.

At a time when political opinion polls across the world have been decried for getting it wrong repeatedly and led pollsters to avoid taking extreme positions on results, Today's Chanakya's has repeatedly stuck its neck out and made hard core predictions. It was the only agency to have predicted a clean sweep for the BJP in the current elections while its rivals chose to be more conservative.

In the assembly elections of Delhi, MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2013, too, my team was the only one to have got it right for all the four states, says Bajaj, the CEO of Today's Chanakya.

Bajaj is a member of the family that owns and runs RNB Research, a Delhi-based market research company of which Today's Chanakya is a part. The company conducts research for political and commercial entities in several Asian, African and Middle East countries.

Recounting several success stories from across the world, Bajaj speaks of 11 models of analytics and research, a rigorous methodology with several inbuilt check and counter-check tools, a highly qualified and dedicated team while explaining his repeated success in poll prediction.

What stands out in that description, however, is his unswerving faith in numbers. He says he or his team members do not hob knob with the powers that be and, hence, their world view is not coloured by extraneous factors. They also do not factor in popular perceptions or trends predicted by media or others while dissecting the numbers gathered from the field.

To begin with, we take great pains in ensuring that our sample is diverse and truly representative of the local factors of the territory we are looking at. We do not use a universal sample format for all territories. Then, we let our data tell the story. We do not worry about it being in sync or contradiction with the popular perceptions, says Bajaj.

Defying a popular theory that a big sample size is crucial for better research, he says the quality of sample, and not the sample size, determines the success of results. The popular perception in our industry is that the bigger the sample size the better the results. I disagree. It is possible to get the correct picture with a smaller sample size provided it is diverse enough to capture the undercurrents.

Taking a dig at rivals who said Chanakya took a calculated risk in taking the extreme position on BJP's clean sweep in elections, Bajaj says it is the guts to stand by their numbers and not the gut feeling that led his team to predict 2014 results.