A landslide for the BJP, but a mudslide for Pollsters

India has voted and the NDA has had a sweeping victory across the country with 339 seats. Of these, the BJP has taken 284, giving it a majority regardless of the alliances it made with other parties. The UPA, led by Congress, has had a shocking defeat, one of its worst in history, with only 58 seats, of which 44 went to the Congress. Ironically, it will now need to seek alliances with other parties to form an opposition in Parliament. The ADMK has 37 seats, the largest party categorised in the OTHER alliance. Whereas Tamil Nadu has typically played a role in forming the government through alliances, it will now have to decide whether to form an alliance with Congress to form the official opposition. This is the first time, since 1984, that a single party has won a parliamentary majority.

For the pollsters, this win shows their methodologies failed. As an aggregator of the pollsters, our own analysis was wholly off from what the actual result came out to be. Interestingly, the PEW Research, in its survey, was the closest to the result. It predicted 63% supporting the BJP to lead the next government. This translated to 342 seats. However, its prediction for the UPA and OTHER was not as accurate.

Returning to our own predictions and how they were wholly wrong, we feel the number of quality pollsters lacks in India. Whereas the USA elections, for example, have hundreds of pollsters, we were presenting our analyses on a handful of pollsters. We firmly believe more transparent quality pollsters are required, working at the state level.

Over the next few weeks, there will be much analysis of the results and parsing of the data to see how the election was won. Some of the more interesting questions will include the role played by the youth, caste, social media, and by the campaign style itself. Did a presidential-like campaign (ie the Modi Wave) play an important role? Did Amit Shahs' strategy in UP, focusing on local caste affiliations and the like for nominating members play a decisive role in the massive win the BJP had in the State? What role did the youth vote and social media play in the election?

John Oliver on Indian Elections

A great and funny piece on the US media ignoring the Indian election, as well as the present state of India's own media.