Exit Polls 2017: Times when they went wrong

By: | Updated: March 9, 2017 5:30 PM

With results for the crucial assembly elections being announced day after tomorrow, the exit polls this evening are only filling up.

With results for the crucial assembly elections being announced day after tomorrow, the exit polls this evening are only filling up. (PTI)

With results for the crucial assembly elections being announced day after tomorrow, the exit polls this evening are only filling up. While the anxiety to “know” is building up, we need to be cautioned that in the past, specially in 2004 and 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, the pollsters have been unable to get the results right, and there has been a bias in the stylized presentations of poll results inclined towards the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Flying blind, therefore, are debates about adequate sample size and methodology, randomization strategies and, most importantly, the leap taken from vote share to seats.

Exit polls historically have been a mixed bag with some having been proved right. However, there have been times when the exit poll results have been largely off the mark. Those that went wrong are:

In 2016, exit polls could not get it right for 2016 for Tamil Nadu Assembly polls. AIADMK was seen to be on its way out due to anti-incumbency factor. But the real results surprised everyone, when late chief minister, J Jayalalithaa and her party returned with 136 seats.

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Another major exit poll failure was in Bihar Assembly elections of 2015. thumping majority of JD(U)-RJD alliance stumped all the pollsters. BJP got only 111 votes. No poll came even closer surprising all.

Similarly, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, no exit poll could see Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, no exit poll could predict the Congress getting reduced to just 44 seats.

This time the Assembly elections have greater element of unpredictability, especially in Uttar Pradesh where Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress formed an alliance. A hyper campaign in the state by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself changed earlier perception that SP-Congress alliance would easily secure a majority. In Punjab, there was a neck-and-neck contest between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress. The rebel factor influencing both the Congress and the BJP in Uttarakhand has confounded the political pundits. It is clear that as new alliances form, voting behaviors shift and there is increasing fragmentation of the political system, placing a bigger challenge on forecasting models.

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