Pollsters face 'real' test today
With exit poll predictions going the other way several times in the past, it will be a test day for pollsters on Friday when the actual Lok Sabha election results will be out.
Questions have been raised about the sample and the methodology adopted by various survey agencies in the past with the losing side in such polls raising doubts about their intentions. The Congress has officially distanced itself from such polls and its leaders are not participating in TV discussions related to exit polls.
This time, three exit polls have said the NDA could get between 272 and 289 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha while four others gave it a comfortable tally, between 289 to 340 seats. All the exit polls are unanimous that the Congress will fare badly with some giving less than 100 seats for the ruling combination led by the grand old party.
The India Today-Cicero poll has given NDA 261-282 seats while ABP-Nielsen has given 278. India TV-CVoter has given NDA 289, Times Now-ORG India 249-265, See News 299, Inida News 315, CNN-IBN-CSDS 270-282 and Today’s Chanakya 340. Today’s Chanakya has given Congress the least at 70 seats.
However, the exit polls have missed the bull’s eye in the past two general elections by a vast margin while their prediction was close to the actual results in 1998 and 1999.
In 2004, when almost all the polls predicted a return of NDA with more than 240 seats, it had to be content with 189 MPs and shift to Opposition benches. The Congress, on the other hand, was predicted to get a maximum of 197, but got 222. The party then went on to form the government with the help of outside supporters.
The Outlook-MDRA exit poll had then given 284 seats for NDA and 164 for Congress while Sahara-DRS poll had given 270 for NDA and 176 for Congress. The NDTV-Indian Express poll gave 240 for NDA while UPA Congress got 197.
In 2009, almost all the polls predicted a neck-and-neck race with some even giving the Opposition NDA an edge but the results was a surprise for pollsters as the Congress-led UPA was just 10 seats away from the majority-mark of 272.
The NewsX exit poll gave 199 seats for NDA then and UPA 191 while CNN-IBN gave 175 for NDA and 195 for UPA. However, actual results showed that UPA romped home comfortably with 262 and NDA 159 seats respectively.
The 1998 and 1999 exit polls by various agencies also missed the mark but they were not that off-the-mark like in the last two elections.