Which Exit Poll to trust today?
Our Small sample survey suggests that Today’s Chanakya is likely to be the most relied survey today. 27% mentioned the agency followed by 19% who mentioned Axis My India. New Agency Jan Ki Baat was ranked 3rd.
Trusting any agency today will not be very easy given the ordinary record of exit polling firms in India. Still, one or more agencies are likely to be correct today. We will attempt to pick up some cues that might be helpful for us to Trust the right agency today.
1. Recent Performance Rankings
In our own rankings of agencies for recent work completed, the top ranking agencies are
1. Axis My India
2. C- Voter
3. Jan Ki Baat
4. Today’s Chanakya
Axis My India gets between 40-50% of the elections right. Axis missed Karnataka by a mile but has generally been close to the target. C-Voter performed well in Karnataka but missed Gujarat by a mile.
2. Historical Performance in these States
In the last election in 2013, Today’s Chanakya was the most accurate. C-Voter had a very tough time over-estimating Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
3. Prediction Strategies/Flaws
While all the firms follow a structured approach to data collection and reporting, there are some peculiarities. (This is our read of the agency)
1. Axis, Today’s Chanakya and Jan Ki Baat place a lot of emphasis on quality data collection. When the fruit is good, the odds of juice being good improves. A lot of emphasis is placed on senior to mid-level people spending time on the field. This reduces bias and also gets a first hand feel of what is happening on the ground
2. C-Voter also relies on quality data collection but via a continuous tracker. The advantage of a continuous tracker is that the pollster is able to pick up momentum far more easily and build those in the models
3. While people accuse agencies of being biased and perhaps individual pollsters like one party over the other but a nuanced eye will tell us that the errors produced by these agencies are not due to bias but variety of other reasons
– Today’s Chanakya relies heavily on the bandwagon effect. Given how Indians vote, it is not unusual to see the final set of voters load up in preference of one party. So Chanakya typically loads seats in preference of one party. Now that does not work uniformly in every election. And that is when Today’s Chanakya stands out as an outlier who got it wrong.
– C-Voter typically under reports BJP Votes. In the 2013 elections in these States it had under reported BJP. Unfortunately, in Karnataka and Gujarat, it went the other way though in all fairness, the over reporting was 8% and 5%. C-Voter has a reasonable record in the Southern States having done well in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka though it under estimated LDF in Kerala by about 15%.
– Axis My India has limited experience in these States but in general does better in direct fights. Example – Gujarat, Kerala, Bihar etc. It has struggled in Multi-Cornered fights – Punjab, Karnataka, Bengal . Axis has struggled in the South in general having done poorly in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It performed well in Kerala though.
– CNX has a history of under reporting Congress Vote share – Karnataka, Gujarat
1. Telangana – Look at a combination of C-Voter and Flash (Local Exit Poll Company)
2. Madhya Pradesh – Today’s Chanakya and Axis My India
3. Rajasthan – Unless there is consistency across all agencies, exit polls cannot be relied
4. Chhattisgarh – Unless there is consistency across all agencies, exit polls cannot be relied
5. Mizoram – Jan Ki Baat
We have not included JKB in (1) and (2) not because we don’t think they can get right but because we don’t know if they will get it right. We just donot have enough data. We have grave concerns for all pollsters on likely accuracy of exit polls in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Unless all the agencies are saying the same thing, these two States will be highly unpredictable.
Don’t forget, on our web-site the crowdwisdom has given out their predictions. Close to 2500 people participated. The Crowd has been fairly accurate and reliable so far. One needs to see if the wisdom of the crowd will maintain its consistency in these elections. The Crowd’s predictions will be posted on the web-site at 6.30 pm.