Monday, May 16, 2016

TN Elections 2016 - Opinion/Exit Polls and Reality

Right now the hot topic in television channels and social media is the recently concluded assembly elections for 4 states and a UT - Tamil Nadu,Kerala,Assam,West Bengal and Puducherry. This blog post has nothing to do with other states and only deals with Tamil Nadu. The TV channels has published some data in the name of exit polls and are predicting a comfortable come-back for DMK barring C Voter. Before getting into the details we should understand what does an 'exit poll' mean?

An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. Unlike an opinion poll, which asks for whom the voter plans to vote, or some similar formulation, an exit poll asks for whom the voter actually voted.

Source -

Carefully observe the data, they have published the exit poll results for 234 constituencies while the elections are completed only for 232 constituencies(Aravakurichi and Tanjore elections postponed to 23rd May). Even before the elections, these channels found out to whom people have voted for. This is really mindblowing. It seems time travel has become a reality now, that these channels went to future and got the data for all the 234 constituencies.

When you call what you publish is an exit poll, you should have proper evidences to back your claim. Does these channels have any such evidence? On what basis these channels have published this data? NDTV says ADMK will get 110 seats and DMK will get 109 seats. Does this even appear to be an exit poll? There is a common opinion that it is very difficult to predict the results this time and most of the constituencies will see a close fight between the major Dravidian parties. These channels have just utilized it to their advantage. By publishing such an exit poll data, they will get a very good viewership which would increase their TRP. This only reminds me a scene from an old movie. The hero will be sitting with disappointment, after trying his luck with lotteries. A small boy will collect the lottery tickets lying on road and our hero will say, 'hey these tickets are expired' and the boy will reply firmly 'I know sir, I am collecting these tickets after knowing that they are expired, others' laziness is what feeding me for a long time'. He is someone who makes money out of wastepaper.

"தம்பி இதெல்லாம் குழுக்கள் முடிஞ்சா சீட்டு"

"தெரியும் சார் தெரிஞ்சி தான் எடுத்துட்டுப் போறேன், அடுத்தவங்க சோம்பேறித்தனம் தான் எனக்கு ரொம்ப நாளா சோறு போடுது"

This scene is from the movie 'Dhavani Kanavugal' vintage K Bhagyaraj film.

One of these surveys is based on caste. Its something like people belonging to a so and so community would have voted for a so and so party.One can't insult the Indian electoral system and electorate more than this.

I predicted 160-190 seats for AIADMK before elections. As per the electoral arithmetic, the AIADMK has a larger vote share compared to DMK. So if it's a direct fight between DMK and ADMK, without a wave(pro or anti), naturally the AIADMK should win. There is anti-incumbency factor. Yes the TN Chief minister is battling out the anti-incumbency,no doubt about it. But the anti-incumbency is not so powerful to bring a change of govt. Moreover, only if the anti-AIADMK votes goes to DMK, it will be a setback for ADMK. At present, the DMK is not in a position to cash-in on the situation. Had the DMK been strong enough, they would not have come down to such an extent asking Vijayakanth to join their alliance and Kalaignar made that infamous 'fruit' comment. Vijayakanth made the DMK to wait for long and dumped them. This has reduced the morale of DMK cadre. Other parties that would play a role in the outcome of these elections - 3rd front(PWF), PMK, Naam Thamizhar Katchi and BJP. The expectation was that these entities will take away the anti-ADMK votes from DMK. That seems to have not happened.

In AIADMK, Jayalalithaa changed the candidates frequently. Well, Jayalalithaa is known for this and she doesn't even spare her ministers. I used to make a funny comment that ADMK ministry is like a football team, that every substitute will get a chance to play. So I was not at all surprised by Jayalalithaa's decision to change the candidates. Whereas, the DMK's case is totally different.

The DMK party workers themselves were not happy with some candidates and they wanted them to be changed. Incidents of violence were reported too.Being in such a vulnerable position, how can DMK emerge as a super power all of a sudden? Even in 2006, there was not much of anti-incumbency against the ADMK govt, but DMK came to power. In 2006,the Congress party was considerably strong enough to help the DMK win many seats.This time too, the DMK and Congress are fighting the elections together, whereas the Congress is not the same as it was in 2006, as Vasan broke up with Congress and EVKS Elangovan has weakened Congress as much as possible.

To be fair, democracy is much more powerful than what we all think,so had the voters thought somehow they should throw away the current govt, they would have voted en-masse to DMK. And only in that situation DMK can form a govt. The overall polling percentage in Tamil Nadu is 73.76%, which is less than 2011. The CEO Mr.Rajesh Lakhani says it may be due to change in voters list and we should also remember that 2 constituencies goes to polls only on 23rd May.So we can consider the overall polling percentage around 76%(approximately) which is still less than 2011 and slightly more than 2014 LS elections. Generally if the overall polling percentage is not so high, it is considered as advantage ruling party.

I am not a reporter or I didn't do any fieldwork to get these details. These are purely based on what the newspapers and news websites(which I trust) publish. Based on these details and the candidates list, I arrived at the figures 160-190. The DMK, which was written off before 3 months, is suddenly making headlines. Well I am not sure what they did in these 3 months to emerge victorious. The reason for mentioning this is, I am just a random blogger and I am able to provide reasons for arriving at this figure. Infact, I can also write my understanding about each constituency and who may win. I may or may not get it right. My predictions have failed in 2006(predicted an ADMK govt),2009(I predicted a BJP govt at centre and more seats to ADMK in TN) and in 2014 ( predicted more seats to NDA in TN and less no. of seats to BJP at national level). But when all these channels got it wrong in 2011, my prediction came true in 2011.

"ADMK+ has a bright possibility of winning 180+ seats." - I wrote.

So this time, again, my prediction may or may not come true. But my point is, I predict based on some factors and observations, and I am no prodigy to get it right everytime.

But on what basis these channels publish the exit poll data? They were not able to give any convincing reason on how they arrived at these figures. Journalism at an all time low(well as usual). 
I am damn sure,even if any of these so called exit poll results come true, its pure co-incidence and these channels are giving random numbers too.

Consider a situation, 'its an India South Africa match, 4 balls remaining, South Africa need 7 runs to win with A B Devilliers on strike. If someone asks you, will India win, and if you answer no, it doesn't mean you want India to lose, it only means South Africa is going to win and you said this based on ABD's track record. This example is for people who don't know the difference between prediction and wish.

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