Exit polls for 2014 Lok Sabha election predicted BJP win, but not scale; News24-Chanakya predictions were most accurate

As soon as the final phase of polling gets over on Sunday, it would be time for several pollsters to come out with their exit poll predictions. Major national pollsters including News18-IPSOS, India Today-Axis, Times Now-CNX, NewsX-Neta, Republic Bharat-Jan Ki Baat, Republic-CVoter, ABP-CSDS and Today's Chanakya will reveal their numbers ahead of the counting of votes on 23 May.

 Exit polls for 2014 Lok Sabha election predicted BJP win, but not scale; News24-Chanakya predictions were most accurate

Voters queue up at a polling station. PTI

As per Election Commission’s guidelines, pollsters can only begin airing their numbers once they get a go-ahead from the poll body. According to Section 126A of the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951, exit polls can only be aired until half an hour after the completion of the final phase of voting.

Exit polls have often been subjected to criticism for their inaccuracy. The exit polls in 2004 and 2009 failed to accurately predict the results of the elections. In fact, the 2004 exit polls predicted a massive victory for the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA. However, proving all exit polls wrong, the Congress staged a stunning comeback to form a coalition government. In 2009 too, most exit polls predicted a hung Parliament with the UPA as the single largest coalition. This time too they were proven wrong as the Congress on its own managed to win over 200 seats.

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Nevertheless, pollsters could gauge the mood of voters in 2014 since they put the BJP-led NDA ahead of Congress. Ultimately, the BJP managed to win a simple majority on its own while the NDA crossed 300 seats in the Lok Sabha.

Ahead of the exit polls on Sunday, here is a recap of how exit polls panned out ahead of the counting of votes in 2014.

All predicted a BJP gain but failed to gauge the scale of victory

All exit polls in 2014 did predict that the NDA under the leadership of Narendra Modi would become the single-largest coalition. However, they failed to predict the scale and magnitude of the victory. Not only did they underestimate the BJP but also overestimate the seat tally for the Congress-led UPA.

Of the six main pollsters in 2014, the News24-Chanakya proved to be the most accurate. The News24-Chanakya poll had predicted 340 seats for the NDA while the coalition won 336 seats. The India TV-C Voter exit poll too gave a simple majority to the NDA – 289 seats. Two other exit polls — India Today-Cicero and CNN-IBN CSDS — too gave the most number of seats to the NDA. However, their tallies fell just short of the halfway mark of 272. While the India Today-Cicero exit poll gave a minimum of 261 seats (plus or minus 11 seats) to the NDA, CNN-IBN-CSDS poll gave a minimum of 270 seats to the alliance.

On the other hand, exit polls did predict the defeat of the UPA but failed to predict the scale of the debacle.

In fact, the Times Now-ORG India exit poll predicted 148 seats for the UPA. ABP News-Nielsen gave 97 seats to the Congress-led alliance while News24-Chanakya gave only 70 seats. Ultimately, Congress won a paltry 44 seats in the Parliament.

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Updated Date: May 20, 2019 11:03:42 IST