Lok Sabha Elections 2024: How accurate are opinion polls?
Modi government will sit again in India...

Shailesh Jaiswal / Mumbai

     This time too, opinion polls in the Lok Sabha elections seem to be in favor of BJP. In various opinion polls, NDA alliance is seen getting 373 seats, while Congress' India alliance is seen getting 155 seats. However, in India, to gain majority in the Lok Sabha, a political party needs to win 272 seats out of the total 543 seats.

     It is notable that opinion polls during the 1998 Lok Sabha elections were "almost accurate", while the predictions in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections were a complete "shocker" to the poll pundits. The accuracy of opinion polls for Lok Sabha elections has in the past been a hit-and-miss affair. As the Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) correctly states, opinion polls and seat predictions have been "a mixed bag of successes as well as failures".

     Let us tell you that BJP came to power at the Center for the first time in 1996. The party retained power in the general elections of 1998 and 1999. While in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, the actual results were "shocking" to many election pundits. Opinion polls/exit polls conducted during various phases of the election rated the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as "completely underpowered". According to the CSDS report, all opinion polls in 2004 had predicted that the NDA would be able to retain power at the Centre. However, it was the Congress that pushed the BJP to form the national government again.

     Five years later, opinion polls once again failed to predict a victory for the Congress-led UPA during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. At that time, "predictions failed to foresee the emergence of the Congress". UPA increased its number of seats from 222 seats in 2004 to 262 seats in 2009.

     Meanwhile, the NDA was projected to win around 257–340 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, the NDA's actual tally was more than 336 seats. According to reports, some opinion/exit polls had then correctly predicted "lowest ever" seats for the Congress. The oldest party had won 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. UPA had won 59 seats overall.

    Later, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, pollsters had predicted around 285 seats for the NDA. However, the BJP-led alliance registered a landslide victory by winning 353 seats, of which the BJP alone got 303 seats. This was a result that many people had not even thought about. Congress got 52 seats and its UPA got 91 seats.

Exit poll vs opinion poll:-

Exit polls and opinion polls are two different things. Exit polls are conducted by researchers who ask voters how they voted immediately after they leave the polling station on polling day. But opinion poll is a voter behavior survey conducted to find out the opinions of people before voting, including those who may or may not vote. Therefore, there are opinion polls before voting and exit polls after voting.

Opinion polls from various institutions are being given here. However, only time will tell how accurate these will be.

Now, how close these figures come to the actual figure will become clear only on June 4, when the results of the Lok Sabha elections will be declared. This year, Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases. Voting will begin on Friday, April 19.

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