State Elections 2018: Is Opinion Poll of ABP and C-Voter reliable?


Source: Prashant Bhushan’s Tweet

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram are going to hold assembly elections by the end of the year. News channel ABP and C Voter have come up with a poll for three states. As per this poll, in all these states, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, BJP is likely to lose.

The track record of ABP and C-Voter opinion polls is not good which raises questions over the reliability of this survey. The first ABP poll for UP in March 2016 showed BSP as the single largest party (SLP) in a hung assembly. Even the last ABP opinion poll in January 2017 showed SP-Congress alliance as SLP with just a few seats short of majority.  On the other hand C-Voter has a better exit poll record than opinion polls. It predicted AAP victory in Punjab in March 2016 a year before polls and maintained its call in January 2017.

So surveys can go wrong, that too surveys conducted significantly before the actual voting dates. To be fair to the survey, they have sampled all Lok Sabha seats of the state, total sample size 28,000.

Dichotomy / Contradiction in Opinion Poll

On one side, the poll claims that Congress government will be installed in all the three states, on the other hand, in two states, BJP’s current Chief Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh are public’s first choice for the post of chief minister.

  • In Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot of Congress is the front runner for CM’s post with 41 per cent while Sachin Pilot is the choice of 18 per cent. If 59 per cent public wants to see Chief Minister from Congress, it’s obvious that Congress is likely to win. Even the trend in the state, no party has returned to power since 1998, favours Congress.
  • In Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh leads the pack with 34 percent, Ajit Jogi is the choice of 17 percent and Bhupesh Baghel of 9 per cent public. However, in the survey, BJP is projected to get 39 percent vote share while Congress 40 percent.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan is the choice of 42 percent of the people. Whereas, the rival Congress’s Jyotiraditya Sindhya and Kamal Nath are second and third choice with 30 percent and 7 percent votes. Even if you add both the leaders from Congress party then also their aggregate leadership rating is only 37 percent, 5 percent short of Chouhan. However, BJP is projected to get 40 percent vote share while Congress 42 percent. How is this possible?

In the recent past, we have seen that the party whose candidate leads the Chief Minister race, normally ends up winning the elections. Vijay Rupani was leading the charts, BJP won in Gujarat. Amarinder Singh was leading the pack in Punjab, Congress won. Kejriwal and Nitish were ahead of their BJP rivals in the state elections, BJP had to face humiliating defeat. 

Further the gap between the two parties in MP and Chhattisgarh is 1%-2% indicating its a tough call. The margin of error in such polls generally is 1% -3%. which means that the results can turn upside down. We will need to wait for more such surveys to see if a consensus emerges, however I can bet, different surveys will show different winners. Stay tuned…

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