Can We Rely Upon Exit Polls

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					Can We Rely Upon Exit Polls?
In India, when elections are round the corner, either for the State
Assemblies or the Parliament, it has become a fashion or even customary
to release exit poll surveys on the eve of elections. Exit poll surveys
are conducted by non-profit private organizations, like a team led by
Loyola College, Chennai or some media sponsored organizations like NDTV.
A common man's dilemma is:
1) Whether we can rely upon these exit poll results?
2) Do they really reflect or echo the correct view points of the voters?
3) Whether we can embark upon any pre-poll or post-poll strategy on the
basis of these exit poll results?
When we take up the first question, whether we can rely upon these exit
polls, we have to analyze certain factors before giving our answer.
Because, recently on the eve of Karnataka State Assembly Elections in
India, two exit poll surveys were released on the eve of first phase of
elections held on 10 th May, 2008, in the 89 constituencies conducted in
the key Cauvery basin area. One exit poll was conducted by a team
sponsored by Loyola College, Chennai and another one was a team sponsored
by NDTV, New Delhi. When the results of the exit polls were announced by
both teams in a span of one weak, both the results gave us a different
picture .The team from Loyola College, Chennai, predicted a hung assembly
in the state of Karnataka, with 75-to 80 seats to BJP overall, 55 seats
to the Congress I and some 25 seats to the Janata Dal (S) and some 20
seats undecided. Still the exit poll did not give a complete survey for
all the 224 seats, which showed that the survey team itself was rather
confused or undecided.
The second exit poll result was announced by the team sponsored by NDTV,
which predicted only on the basis of the first phase of elections
conducted to 89 seats on 10 th May, 2008.According to it the BJP would
get 31 seats out of 89 contested in the Cauvery basin area, bagging 14
seats out of capital Bangalore, 23 seats to the Congress I and 26 seats
to the Janata Dal (S).Actually Janata Dal (S) leaders are buoyant and
hopeful of winning as many as 40 seats, in the first phase. The NDTV
survey of the first phase has actually given its results only for 80
seats out of 89 contested in the first phase. Therefore, though the
results may seem sensational and tickling our nerves, still we cannot
rely upon them, because the results were inconclusive in both the
Taking up the second issue, whether the results of the exit polls truly
reflect the correct view points of the voters, the answer is certainly
not affirmative because, the exit poll surveys are conducted at random
among the voters and they do not reflect the exact viewpoint of all the
voters in its entirety. One cannot be rest assured that all those people
who have given their opinion in the exit poll survey will come to vote.
For example in the first phase only 60 % turn out was recorded. One
cannot exactly say and be rest assured that the exit poll survey
reflected only 60 % of those people who had voted. The exit poll survey
does not take in to account the voter's default. Again but for the open
indication of a voter in whose favor he would vote, there are certain
other parameters in a voter's house to find out in whose favor he will
vote. Say in the house a prominent leader or a worker of a party, one can
find party flags flying, leaders' photos would be there and so it would
be easy to count their vote in favor of a particular party. Whereas in
the case a common man or a neutral voter, it is quite tough to find out
in whose favor his vote will swing and he is the most volatile and
difficult to gauge in the exit poll. Again in our democracy, last minute
shift or tilt or swing in favor a candidate, by wooing the voter, by
virtue of money, by liquor and by persuasion has become the typical
characteristics of Indian democracy and one can do nothing to prevent
these influences and these voters being highly volatile, could not be
taken into account in the exit poll and it is needless to say that these
voters form a considerable portion of the voters who will certainly vote
without default.
Considering the third issue, as to the result of an exit poll, though a
common voter may remain unconcerned, but the political parties which are
in the fray are more serious and concerned about these exit poll results.
When a detailed break up of these exit poll results are once made
available, it is quite possible, the contesting political parties may
regroup themselves and concentrate more on the weak areas which needs to
be attended. However, one should not forget that the agencies that
conduct the exit polls are rank outsiders and certainly do not feel
accurately the pulse of the voters of a constituency and in this regard
the native men, political workers and leaders are more adepts in
assessing the pulse of the people more accurately than the exit poll
surveyors. Above all the exit polls do not take into account the communal
factors correctly into account because sometimes during the survey for
exit polls, the voter may not reveal his actual caste and thereby don't
want to get reduced in social status.
Thus we see, the exit poll surveys cannot be relied upon accurately, but
still they provide a general view point of the public opinion or we can
say voters' opinion at random, on the basis of which, we cannot
accurately gauge the result of a particular constituency. Again a voter
is not swayed by these exit poll opinions at random, since he is
influenced by various other strong factors which he considers dear.
1.The Hindu (daily)
2.The Deccan Chronicle (daily)

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