It is their opinion they have done an exit poll

Exit polls are said to be more reliable than opinion polls in gauging the mood of the electorate since pollsters catch respondents immediately after they have cast their ballot.

But for the second successive time in five years, mainstream Indian media organisations have fallen flat on their faces in their “exit poll” projections, throwing a big question mark over the authenticity of their claims, the reliability of the pollster’s methods, and their use as a media device.

Obviously, the size of the country, the size of the electorate, the multiple parties and issues involved, etc, making prediction an immeasurably difficult task, but the consistency with which polls are getting it wrong throw a big question mark over the role the media is performing in our democracy: do they have their ear to the ground, catching the pulse of the people whose eyes and ears they are supposed to be.

Or have they become a megaphone for uninformed news, views and gossip, no different from a roadside tea shop.


In 2004, all the exit polls predicted a return to power for the NDA giving the ruling alliance a lead of 40-90 seats and more; in the end, the BJP-led alliance fell 32 seats below the predictions and was routed by the UPA.

In 2009, all the exit polls predicted a thin lead for the ruling UPA; some predictions sighted a single-digit margin between the two alliances. In the end, the Congress-led UPA ended up almost 100 seats ahead of the NDA.


2004 Elections

NDTVIndian Express: NDA 230-250, Congress + allies 190-205,

Aaj Tak/ Headlines Today: NDA 248, Congress + allies 189

Zee News: NDA 249, Congress + allies 176

Star News: NDA 263-275, Congress + allies 174-186

Actual tally: NDA 187, Congress + allies 219


2009 Elections

NDTV: UPA 216, NDA 177, Third Front 15

Star News-AC Neilsen: UPA 199, NDA 196

CNN-IBN-CSDS: UPA 185-205, NDA 145-160

India TV-C Voter: UPA 189-201, NDA 183-195

Headlines Today: UPA 191, NDA 180

The Times of India: UPA 198, NDA 183

Actual tally: UPA 256, NDA 164

1 Comment

  1. One of the major casualties in the last few years has been the Indian media, especially the electronic one.

    Exit polls, as opposed to other surveys, represent media’s hubris as the real result itself is anyway out some hours later.

    But for those few hours, the media gloats and treats the exit polls as the real McCoy and puts out the most presumptuous of questions.

    Now that the exit polls have been proved wrong in the extreme, not one TV channel had the heart to accept it.

    In fact Rajdeep and Prannoy congratulated themselves for getting it right. Farce is too mild a word to describe them and their behaviour.

    The likes of Rajdeep, Barkha, always clamber on the moral high horse, and berate the politicos for not showing enough grace at times of defeat.

    But when they themselves have been proved awfully wrong, where is the grace? In fact the way they went about the whole tamasha left a sickening taste in the guts.

    They were fawning and oily towards to the victors and extremely rude and downright disrespectful to the losers (the BJP and the Left).

    Is there a way to vote out the electronic media prima donnas? There should be a poll to exit them, as it were.

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