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Exit polls underestimate results, NDA to get more seats than predicted, says Yogendra Yadav

Updated : May 20, 2019 12:49 PM IST

The News18-Ipsos exit poll projects a saffron wave in the 2019 elections with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) likely to cross the 300-seat mark. Also, the BJP is projected to repeat the 2014 sweep and dominate Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and the north east, and is likely to maintain its hold on Uttar Pradesh.

Yogendra Yadav, president, Swaraj Abhiyan shared his views and expectations from the 2019 elections.

“The first point to be noted is that exit polls tend to get the big picture right, never take the exact numbers too seriously. This is not black magic but the broad picture that all the exit polls are presenting namely that NDA is back to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is there to stay, that looks like a correct estimate. There is no reason to disbelieve that. What usually happens is that pollsters – not just in India – all over the world like to play it safe. So if I have done an exit poll in Haryana and if it shows BJP can win 8-10 seats, then I would rather say 8 than 10 because when I say 10, I am exposing myself to more of a risk. So it is a risk aversion strategy that most pollsters use. The final outcome of that is that if it is a landslide in favour of one party then polls tends to underestimate that. This has classically been the record of exit polls in India throughout history,” he said.

“If all the exit polls’ average is something around 300 for the NDA then without knowing anything, just as a speculative exercise, I will add another 25-30 there and say it is more likely to be 325-330 if the midpoint of all the exit polls is 300. I was just wanting to illustrate the fact that in most landslides, most one-way contests, polls tend to be slightly conservative and the actual results tend to be slightly more dramatic. So in overall terms, this might mean that many polls maybe underestimating,” he added.

“It is a landslide not throughout the country, it is not like 1984 for Rajiv Gandhi – there are about 100 seats in the south, from Kerala to Telangana where BJP doesn’t quite exist as a serious competitor so you have to take that out. It does seem from what the polls are saying that throughout west and north India, with perhaps the exception of UP and Punjab, there could be a one-way wave in favour of the BJP and when waves of that kind take place, actual results tend to surprise. They tend to be even more one-sided than what the polls are saying,” said Yadav.

“Conventional political wisdom is always mixed. It says a bit of this and a bit of that but actual results tend to be one-sided. So it is possible that at least in these states, the BJP may do even better than what average polls are saying,” added Yadav.
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