India Elections 2019: Will Exact Poll results on May 23 beg to be different from Exit Polls?

Rahul Gandhi
Singapore: Congress President Rahul Gandhi during a meeting with Indian-origin CEOs of companies in Singapore on March 8, 2018. (Photo: IANS/Twitter/@INCIndia) IANS/Twitter/@INCIndia

Surprisingly, all Exit Polls have vouched for the return of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under Narendra Modi winning anywhere between 300 and 350 seats. Surprisingly, every Exit Poll predicts the same trend, raising the eyebrows of some onlookers who never witnessed such an alarming similarity in the past.

Despite the contrarian results of 2004, still fresh in the minds of many psephologists, Yogendra Yadav has jumped the gun soon after the exit polls to seal the fate of Congress, suggesting its leadership to give birth to a new alternative to BJP, instead of keeping the entire opposition on a death bed forever.

What happened in 2004?

During the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, almost all media houses predicted an NDA win but some have predicted that the NDA would come back with an increased tally, while others predicted loss of some seats for the NDA. Surprisingly, all psephologists were on one page that NDA would win.

In fact, these exit polls were conducted during the voting period, which should have reflected the reality far more accurately. However, the final result begged to be different. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Congress returned to power. Essentially, the sample of exit polls in most cases fails to be fully representative. Very often, it represents the mood of the people talked to than the intention of people who vote en bloc. Here's the table:

2004 Election exit polls when UPA was written off

Seat ForecastNDAUPAOthers
NDTV-Indian Express230-250190-205100-120
Aaj Tak-ORG Marg248190105
Actual result189222132

Since Uttar Pradesh contributes maximum number of members to the Lok Sabha, one should not forget the surprising outcome of 2007 UP Assembly elections. A post-poll survey has revealed that some upper castes voted en bloc for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a dalit party led by Mayawati. But, they did not reveal their voting behaviour fearing caste-based retribution. Such aberrations are aplenty in every elections and no exit poll survey can read the pulse of a contrarian or silent voter.

Whether the election results tomorrow (May 23) endorse the 2019 exit polls or not, the outcome remains a stronger message to both the national parties and their allies.