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Major ‘Discrepancy’ In Exit Polls Lands Calls For Probe, Spark Dramatic ‘Public Apologies’ From Polling Companies; Is It Right To Hold A Person Responsible To The Point He ‘Breaks Down’ On National Television?

Gupta of the polling company Axis My India broke down on national television on Tuesday after he was repeatedly questioned about his inaccurate forecasts showing the BJP-led coalition would win 361-401 seats. While TV anchors on India Today, which had sponsored the poll, consoled Gupta by telling him that at least he'd gotten the winner right. However, is it right to publicly humiliate someone if the data captured varied widely, considering India is such a large country, and many factors go into good exit polls?

It surely came as a significant surprise that, contrary to exit polls predictions—a landslide victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party—sparked dramatic public apologies from polling companies this week and calls for them to be investigated for possible manipulation.

Almost all exit polls released on June 1 forecast Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies to win more than 350 seats in the lower house of parliament.

The final results, released three days later, however, put the coalition’s tally at just 293 seats.

The exit polls pushed the benchmark equity index to a record on Monday, followed by a crash a day later when almost $400 billion of value was wiped off the market.

Exit Polls, Stock Markets, Modi GovtNot surprisingly at all, opposition parties, quick to point fingers (the show has already begun) , called on the country’s stock market regulator and the parliament to investigate the polling companies and BJP leaders for possible rigging.

“People very high up in the BJP have carried out a scam,” Rahul Gandhi, a key leader in the main opposition Indian National Congress, told reporters Thursday.

“We’d like to know if these polls were actually carried out, what was the methodology of the polls, and who are these investors.”

Prior to the exit polls, Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had predicted rallies in the stock market, with the prime minister saying it would hit record highs on the day of election results.

While exit polls have a patchy record in India—in 2004, they also predicted a comfortable majority for the BJP-led alliance, which didn’t transpire—polling had been generally accurate in 2014 and 2019.

The Probable Reasons For Discrepancy In Exit Polls
The reasons for this year’s large miss are varied.

Political analysts point to the structural challenges of conducting surveys in a country of almost 1 billion voters, limited resources, and inherent biases in surveys.

According to Neelanjan Sircar, a senior fellow at New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, “It is hard to do a good exit poll in a vast country like India due to several factors — how biased is the sample, the weightage given, who is willing to respond to surveys, which areas the surveyors are going.”

He said the mismatch between the election outcome and exit polls also reflects inadequate sample sizes and logistical problems in covering 543 parliamentary constituencies across the country.
Sample Sizes

Much To Defend
Polling companies have come out to defend their data.

Yashwant Deshmukh, founder of CVoter, said it was accurate in predicting the share of votes won by the parties at the state level, but that projections on seat numbers were wrong, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, where the BJP lost substantial support.

However, he pointed out that the BJP’s seat projections in states the party swept, like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Gujarat, were accurate.

Deshmukh also cited sample sizes and limited budgets as challenges. He said that polling in India is as complex as polling in a diverse region like the European Union, and “pollsters don’t have that kind of budget.”

CVoter predicted the BJP-led alliance would win 353-383 seats nationally. The survey’s sample size was 431,182.

The exit poll results “will hugely dent the credibility of pollsters,” Deshmukh said. “The 2004 election exit polls haunted us for 20 years, and the 2024 elections are going to haunt us for another 20 years.”

KCore Analytics provided a more accurate analysis, using artificial intelligence gathered from people’s social media interactions—what they were reading, writing, and responding to on the internet—to predict voter preferences.

The analysis also used important data like inflation, which could influence polls. The research firm, which Herman Makse, a US-based professor, leads, had predicted the BJP would win 240-250 seats and at least 300 seats with its allies.

Makse said traditional polls go wrong for various reasons, including because respondents lie; at the same time, AI gives a clearer idea of people’s preferences because it relies on the anonymity of the internet, he said.

The Public Humiliation
Gupta of the polling company Axis My India broke down on national television on Tuesday after he was repeatedly questioned about his inaccurate forecasts showing the BJP-led coalition would win 361-401 seats.

TV anchors on India Today, which had sponsored the poll, consoled Gupta by telling him that at least he’d gotten the winner right.

However, it is utterly ridiculous to humiliate someone on national television to the point that the person breaks down on national television.

Adding further to the allegations by opposition parties, Gupta said Thursday that if opposition groups allege the exit polls were rigged, they should provide evidence.

“Our methodology and processes are robust, and open for anyone to come and check. We do our job with honesty and full integrity,” he said. Of the 69 elections the company has covered, it accurately called 65 of them, he said, adding that “our record speaks for itself.”

The point to note is also this – the markets have been in correction mode close to the results of the Lok Sabha Elections. Foreign investors have been taking out money systematically, and one of the main reasons is that India’s stock markets are broadly ‘Overvalued’.

This trend mostly follows as results are declared.

Therefore, it would not be false to say that going by the fervour in the country, almost an assumption that the Modi-led government will secure a massive win was not completely off the charts.

What was off the charts though was the fact that the ‘common man’ had a different viewpoint and most likely kept it to themselves rather than openly sharing it!


They say that the 'pen is mightier than the sword'; I believe definitely so! Today news is delivered at breakneck speed, but what makes news articles different from one source to another? It is the way it is delivered-facts, research, the point of view with the correct amount of panache, the X factor! Writing is my chosen profession after 15 years in the corporate sector, and I strive to tick every box even as I am grateful to my readers for their precious time and patronage!


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