The BJP, riding on the Modi wave, is hopeful of breaking the 38-year jinx and tighten the grip on its southern stronghold.
Although a majority of exit polls have showed Karnataka staring at a hung assembly just like the last time, the BJP is hopeful of breaking the jinx of the state never having elected an incumbent government to power since 1985. While most exit polls have predicted a hung Assembly, almost all have placed Congress in the lead, three even predicting a clear win for the grand old party.
Those indicating a hung house also forecasted that HD Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) is likely to emerge as a “kingmaker” and play a role in government formation. But, exit polls often get it wrong.
Primarily, exit polls ask voters which political party they are supporting, after they have cast their votes. It gives a probable idea of which way the wind is blowing. These surveys are sometimes conducted either online or in person.
Exit polls are based on the premise that voters will give honest answers during polling interviews. But many may deliberately lie (just for the sake of having fun at the expense of the agencies and TV news channels) and the marginalised sections may simply be scared to tell the truth.
Take this: None of the agencies, except for one, got Gujarat 2017 election outcome right, when every second person in the state knew who would win.
Let’s give you an idea of the times when Exit Polls went wrong.
2014 General elections
In the run-up to the 2014 elections, the ‘Abki Bar, Modi Sarkar’ slogan could be heard in every nook and corner across the nation. Most of the exit polls predicted that BJP would win. However, what they couldn’t predict was the number of seats that would lead to their win.
While Times Now-ORG poll showed BJP’s victory with only 257 seats, CNN-IBN CSDS poll showed NDA with 276 seats. It was only News 24-Today’s Chanakaya that showed BJP’s win with over 300-figure mark.
2004 Lok Sabha election
The exit polls had predicted the BJP-led NDA to secure a win with over 240 seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha election. However, they got it all wrong. When the actual results were declared, BJP managed about 187 seats and Congress and its allies won 216 seats.
West Bengal Election 2021
India Today’s Axis My India exit poll results showed BJP in the lead with 134-160 seats and TMC with 130-156 seats. Republic-CNX poll projected BJP’s victory with 138-148 seats and TMC lagging behind with 128-138 seats. However, when the actual results were out, BJP managed to get only 77 seats and TMC came back to power.
UP Election 2017
Most of the exit polls in Uttar Pradesh’s Assembly Elections were proven wrong. BJP won the elections with 325 seats but the polls projected a win for BJP with not more than 200 seats. ABP-Lokniti showed BJP’s victory with 170 seats with C-Voter polls showed BJP in the lead with 161 seats.
Bihar Assembly Election 2020
Many exit polls predicted an alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal lead coalition in Bihar in 2020 but it was the BJP-JD(U) alliance that walked away with the victory. Axis My India poll and Today’s Chanakya had predicted RJD-led alliance win but, as we can now say, it was a big miss.
So, in a tight contest like in Karnataka, the BJP can prove yet again that exit polls can go horribly wrong?
In a state where caste rivalries and divisions among Hindus remain a major electoral factor, the BJP changed its campaign strategy and focussed on the trust factor in the popular PM Modi. He arrived in full force, holding over 20 different rallies in the state.
In the final days of campaigning, Modi pushed the idea of a double-engine government, with abundant resources at the disposal of the BJP government at the Centre, the BJP government in the state would surely benefit. The message from Modi was clear: State leaders are there but above all is Modi.