The Aam Aadmi Party came out with flying colours as results of the Delhi election were rolled out today, securing 62 of the 70 seats on offer and restricting the Bharatiya Janata Party to eight. The Congress, as in 2015, drew a blank.
In terms of vote share, AAP saw a marginal drop from 54.3 percent in 2015 to 53.6 percent. The BJP’s vote share, on the other hand, jumped significantly to 38.5 percent from 32.3 percent.
As Newslaundry on Saturday, all exit polls predicted a vote share of 50 percent or so for AAP. Yet, their seat projections ranged between 44 and 68. The vote share to seat conversion is a crucial part of any exit poll, since it hinges on sampling method, mathematical models and often on the whims of associate news outlets.
Times Now-Ipsos was the biggest loser in this respect. Their exit poll predicted 44 seats for AAP, and 26 for the BJP and its allies. TV9-Cicero and NewsX-Neta failed as well, having limited AAP’s seat share in the 50s.
Republic TV-Jan ki Baat and ABP-CVoter offered predictions with ridiculously large margins. The former gave 48-61 seats to AAP, the latter 49-63. To give you an idea of how farcical that bracket is, a parliamentary constituency in Delhi comprises more or less 10 Assembly seats. So, these projections were essentially clueless about an area as wide as a parliamentary constituency.
ABP-CVoter can boast of touching its upper limit, but Republic TV-Jan ki Baat still missed the mark.
Interestingly, Republic TV anchor Pradeep Bhandari is also CEO of Jan ki Baat. He might want to choose one of the two vocations, and excel at it rather than besmirch two at once.
It was Axis My India, which teamed up with India Today, that came closest to predicting the results. Like the 2019 Lok Sabha election and the Haryana and Maharashtra Assembly elections, Axis clinched the seat projection game this time too. The polling company put the 59-68 bracket on the table for AAP, and gave 2-11 seats to the BJP.
Speaking to Newslaundry, Axis My India chairman Pradeep Gupta said the feat was “very simple”. “As usual, we did face-to-face interviews in all the Assembly constituencies with representative sampling,” he explained. “We tried to understand their problems and asked them which party is better placed to resolve those problems. Their responses were recorded in our data, without any bias whatsoever.”
Asked about the reasons for AAP’s victory, Gupta said there was no anti-incumbency in Delhi. “There was strong pro-incumbency based on their development work, especially in areas of education, electricity and water. There was also free darshan for old age people. All this paved the way for AAP.”
Gupta added that during their survey, his team couldn’t meet a single person who had anything negative to say about AAP. “In one word, it is all about development,” he said.
I asked Gupta about the BJP’s attempts at bringing Shaheen Bagh into the electoral discourse. “There was talk [about Shaheen Bagh] but there was no appeal,” he replied. “People would rather vote for livelihood. How can this narrative [about Shaheen Bagh] help their livelihood?”
In spite of its accurate seat projections, Axis My India missed the mark in vote share. The pollster predicted 56 percent of the votes for AAP and 35 percent for the BJP. While AAP fared worse than the prediction, the BJP did better.
In its press release, Axis My India glossed over this fact. “Axis My India exit poll delivers EXACT poll yet again,” said the release. But it only advertised its seat projections and not the vote shares. Gupta said the vote shares were not precise because the pollster did not get enough time between recording its exit poll data and broadcasting on TV. “It’s a single phase election. We have to report by 4 pm and air it by 6 pm,” he said. “Over that the voting was extended to 7 pm. It’s difficult to get hold of the exact voting percentage.”
The Bihar election is due this October this year. With a complex multiparty contest in the offing there, Gupta must warm up not only for another game of numbers, but for a new set of dance moves as well. He would be wise to pass on some tips to India Today anchor Rajdeep Sardesai.