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Business News/ Politics / News/  Lok Sabha Elections 2024: How exact are the opinion polls? It's been hit-and-miss affair so far
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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: How exact are the opinion polls? It's been hit-and-miss affair so far

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: The opinion polls during the 1998 Lok Sabha Elections were “almost accurate”, while predictions in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections were complete “shocker” for poll pundits.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Most pollsters have predicted a third for the BJP-NDA at the Centre. However, the alliance may fall short of achieving its 400+ target. (ANI)Premium
Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Most pollsters have predicted a third for the BJP-NDA at the Centre. However, the alliance may fall short of achieving its 400+ target. (ANI)

The accuracy of the opinion polls for the Lok Sabha Elections in the past has been a hit-and-miss affair. As the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) correctly puts it, the opinion polls and seat predictions have been "a mixed bag of successes as well as failures".

Here's what happened in past Lok Sabha elections:

The Delhi-based CSDS  earlier released a detailed analysis of how accurate were the opinion polls during the Lok Sabha Elections from 1998 to 2009. A political party needs to win 272 seats of the total 543 seats to gain a majority in the Lok Sabha in India.

The report revealed that the pre-election opinion polls in the 1998 Lok Sabha Elections were "almost accurate", while the prediction in the 1999 elections "slightly overestimated" the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). 

The BJP first rose to power at the Centre in 1996. The party retained the power in the 1998 and 1999 general elections.

ALSO READ: NDA may see 3% jump in Lok Sabha seats, INDIA 35%, shows poll of opinion polls

In the 2004 Lok Sabha poll, the actual results were a "shocker" for many poll pundits. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was "completely underestimated" by the opinion polls/exit polls conducted during the various phases of the elections. As per the CSDS report, all the opinion polls in 2004 had predicted that the NDA would be able to retain power at the Centre. However, it was the Congress that ousted the BJP to form the national government again.

ALSO READ: Which states pose a challenge for BJP in Lok Sabha elections 2024? Axis My India MD Pradeep Gupta says...

Five years later, the opinion polls during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections once again failed to predict the victory of the Congress-led UPA. Back then, the "predictions had failed to see the Congress upsurge". The UPA had increased its tally from 222 seats in 2004 to 262 seats in 2009.

ALSO READ: Will BJP's fate change? How Tamil Nadu, other southern states may steer destiny of PM Modi's ‘Abki baar 400 paar’ goal

Meanwhile, in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, the NDA was estimated to win around 257-340 seats. However, the NDA's actual tally was at over 336 seats. According to reports, some of the opinion/exit polls had then correctly predicted the "lowest-ever" tally for the Congress. The grand-old party had won 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. The UPA, in total, had won 59 seats.

Later, in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, pollsters had predicted around 285 seats for the NDA. However, the BJP-led alliance marked a landslide victory by winning 353 seats, with the BJP alone securing 303 seats. This was the result not many thought was possible. The Congress had won 52 seats and its UPA 91 seats.

What's predicted for 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

Most pollsters have predicted a third for the BJP-led NDA at the Centre. However, the alliance may fall short of achieving its 400+ target.

Pre-Poll surveyNDAINDIA bloc
ABP-CVoter Survey373 (BJP: 323)
155 (Congress: 65)
India TV-CNX Opinion Poll393 (BJP: 343)
99 (Congress: 40)
Times Now-ETG Survey386118
India Today335 (BJP: 304)
166 (Congress: 71)
Zee News-Matriz Opinion Poll37794

Now, how close these numbers get to the actual figure will only become clear on June 4, when the results for the Lok Sabha Elections will be declared. This year, the Lok Sabha polls will take place in seven phases. The voting begins on Friday, April 19.

Exit Polls Vs Opinion Polls

Exit polls and opinion polls are two different things. Exit polls are conducted by researchers who ask voters how they have voted just after they leave the polling station on poll day. But an opinion poll is a voter behaviour survey conducted in order to find out the opinion of the people, including those who may or may not vote, before voting takes place. 

So opinion polls are held before the polling and exit polls after the polling.

History of Exit-Opinion Polls

CSDS is considered the pioneer of Exit Polls in India. The Delhi based firm indigenously developed the exercise in the 1960s. The media poll surveys started surfacing in the 1980s, with psephologist Prannoy Roy partnering up with David Butler. 

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Published: 19 Apr 2024, 11:33 AM IST
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