May 14, 2014

Exit polls: The Blooper of Blooper Awards

Exit polls are good entertainment and are needed to keep political obsessives and television anchors busy in the days between voting and counting. I’ve participated in a few exit poll debates over the past two days, and been both amused and provoked. I’m looking forward to the NDTV exit poll this evening, brought to us by the original polling guru, Prannoy Roy.

Some exit polls are honest efforts, conducted by serious companies. Others are quack polls, done by amateurs. They come up with astounding results. I have a collection of what were to my mind the four biggest bloopers of the exit polls so far:

  • The Blooper of Blooper Award must go to Times Now-ORG India for giving the Congress 14 seats in Rajasthan and the BJP only 10. How is this possible six months after the BJP won a massive, massive mandate in the Rajasthan assembly election? (By the way, can someone enlighten me on the ORG controversy? Are they saying they are not the original ORG?)
  • ABP-Nielsen gives the CPI(M)-led Left Front 36 per cent of the popular vote in West Bengal and the Trinamool Congress three per cent less, 33%. Again, this defies even CPI(M) expectations. (Is it just a coincidence that ABP Ananda have been Trinamool Congress bashing for the last two months?)
  • Times Now-ORG India (again) gives Laloo Yadav’s RJD zero seats in Bihar and Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) 10 seats. A journalist I know and respect, who travelled the length and breadth of Bihar during the election, had only one word to offer: “Ludicrous.”
  • The Today’s Chanakya poll gives the BJP six-eight seats in West Bengal. In 2009, in alliance with GJM, the party won just one, Darjeeling. While I admit the BJP’s vote share in West Bengal will go up appreciably from the current 6%, I don’t see it coming anywhere close to six or eight seats, as this poll has predicted.

As such, while I recognise exit polls are needed to fill the space between ads from May 12 to 16, I’m taking them with a pinch of salt.

Derek O’Brien
Member of Parliament
Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha and National Spokesperson, Trinamool Congress