Is Narendra Modi as Popular as in 2014?
Is Narendra Modi as Popular as in 2014? We use Google Trends data to demonstrate our point as this is the only publicly available data at the moment. We believe this data is quite relevant.
One thing we learnt from the 2016 election in Bengal is that if the leadership gap is too large, voters who decide during the last 2-3 days would swing significantly in favour of the party of the more popular leader.
Our dear friend Amitabh Tiwari aka @politicalbaaba argued that the spurts in BJP searches on Google indicate that last minute voters are moving in favour of the BJP. This of course meant that Modi was being seen as the most likely to be the next Prime Minister. Let us investigate this
Three Charts to check Prime Minister’s Popularity
The chart is quite clear, during phase 2 and phase 3, BJP saw significant bursts in searches indicating more interest in the morning of the voting. Let us look at which States went to vote in each of the phases
1: BJP Strong states made up for 41% of the seats
2: BJP strong made up for 47% of the Seats
3: BJP strong states made up for 73% of the Seats
4: BJP strong made up for 80% of the Seats
So the bounce was the lowest where BJP was already very strong. The third phase was also good because the States where BJP was expected to gain the highest vote shares were part of this phase – Kerala, Bengal and Odisha
One hypothesis out of this data that Modi may have swung voters in the last minute particularly in States that BJP was emerging as a stronger party. Important to note that spurts were visible in all States but they were not consistent across all the phases. Still, we only have a hypothesis
Let us look at the second chart, on the correlation between Modi and BJP
The correlation between Modi and BJP is the highest in Assam and Gujarat and the lowest in MP and UP. Further, the correlations are lower than the average for the same period in 2014. So this indicates that Modi does seem to be having an impact on voters but it is seems to be heavily loaded to the East and his home State of Gujarat.
Modi versus Rahul
The last chart is the gap between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi
This chart is clear, the gap between Modi and Rahul Gandhi is the 3rd lowest in 10 election periods in the last 5 years. That said, Modi continues to have a commanding lead over Rahul Gandhi
The data above mirrors CSDS data which shows Modi’s preference at 43% (Higher than 2014) but his gap with Rahul Gandhi down by 1%
When one combines all the 3 data charts and the CSDS data, it is clear that PM Modi appears to have had the most impact in the East/North East region. This impact is particularly visible on the day of voting. While the gap with Rahul Gandhi has fallen, it has not fallen by a very large %.
So Is Narendra Modi as Popular as in 2014? The answer is he is probably more popular but Rahul Gandhi too has increased in popularity during this time.
Modi’s popularity is perhaps not as consistent as it was when compared to 2014. Even where BJP performed well in 2014 the correlations are varying significantly. This suggests that the PM’s gains in popularity in the East have perhaps compensated somewhat for loss of some popularity in their stronger states.
One reason why these correlations are varying so much is because the gap between Rahul and Modi has diminished a bit compared to 2014. This explains the aggressive Eastern Push by Shah and Modi.