Exit polls: How accurate are they? A look back at 2004, 2009, 2014 predictions

All eyes are on the exit polls scheduled to be broadcast after polling for the last phase of the Lok Sabha election is over. Polling for the 59 seats across eight states are currently underway and will conclude at 6:30 pm. Exits polls are different from the opinion polls. Its a poll of voters taken after voting is over and it gives the trend of how people have voted. In other words, it gives a sense of which candidate is ahead of his rival in a particular constituency. The opinion polls are conducted before the start of elections. For this, the pollsters ask the people which party they would like to vote. But in exit polls, they find out which party or candidate the people have voted for. How accurate exit polls are Exit polls tell the mood of the people on the ground but their accuracy depends on multiple factors such as sample size, geographical coverage and the frankness of voters. Normally when people vote in clusters, its easy to gauge which way the wind is blowing. But a segment of people chose not to show their leanings and thats where the pollsters get the numbers wrong. Exit polls have been sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Heres what exit polls predicted in the last three general elections and what the actual results were! Exit Polls of 2014 CNN-IBN – CSDS The BJP got the absolute majority on its own by alone winning 282 seats. In 2009, the highest prediction for the UPA was 205 but it ended up winning 262 seats. Something similar happened in 2004 when all the exit polls went horribly wrong. All the exit polls predicted a win for NDA but it lost the election to the UPA.