May 19: All exit polls released at the conclusion of the seven-phase 17th general election predicted a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The counting of votes will take place on May 23.
Most polls indicated minor to considerable setback for Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh where it won 71 of 80 seats in 2014, but they were in agreement that the party would firmly hold on to its strongholds in the north and west and make considerable gains in West Bengal.
In southern States barring Karnataka, the BJP is projected to trail far behind opponents. The Congress and its allies are projected to make significant gains compared to the historic low they hit in 2014, but will end up some distance away from the halfway mark of 272 seats in the 543-strong Lok Sabha, according to these polls.
The polls predicted between 242 to 365 for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and between 77 and 164 for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Parties that are unattached to either side, which include the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) whose coalition in Uttar Pradesh is resisting the BJP, could get between 69 and 125 seats, according to various polls.
Exit polls have a long history of going wrong in India. According to Praveen Chakravarty, chairperson of the Congress Data Analytics Department, who compared exit polls with actual outcomes posted on Twitter: “~80% of exit poll seat predictions for all parties in large state elections since 2014 are wrong.” Exit polls are generally considered more accurate than opinion polls conducted before actual voting.
Around the world also, the credibility of opinion polls and exit polls has taken a beating in recent years.
Almost all polls in the Australian election last week got the outcome wrong, and similar was the fate of polls during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Brexit. But what is common between these polls that went wrong was that all of them under-reported the support for conservative and ultra-nationalist positions. Indian exit polls on Sunday uniformly predicted a massive surge in favour of the BJP.
The exit poll projections indicate that Mr. Modi’s campaign to turn the election into a referendum on his persona rather than the performance of his five-year term has been successful.
Exit polls predict second term for Modi; setback for BJP in south except Karnataka