In a period of more than a month, millions of Indians voted for Lok Sabha 2019 elections in seven phases for a total of 543 constituencies and now are eagerly awaiting the result that is to come on May 23.
But prior to that, the exit polls have already ruled out any possibility of a Congress-alliance government and almost entirely declared that Narendra Modi will dorn the seat of prime ministership for the second time.
How Reliable Are Exit Polls?
An exit poll is conducted after the voting and just after a voter comes out of the polling booth after casting her/his vote. These numbers are used for predicting the possible actual result post counting. Many organizations in India conduct such exit polls however the predictions are not allowed to be shown before the completion of voting.
It can be shown half an hour after the closing of the final voting phase. So, on May 19 all the television channels after 6.30 pm were eagerly showing discussions and figures about how the BJP-led NDA coalition is leading whereas how Congress and its allied parties are falling behind.
Over the years, even though exit polls have come almost near to the actual result most of the time, they cannot be considered to be 100% reliable. The predictions for this year for NDA is almost 300 plus. The truth, however, will be finally revealed on 23 May. But there can be a twist to these results as some of the previous experiences show.
Results That Showed Exit Polls Can Be Unreliable
Except 1998 and 2014, four exit polls have been predicted wrongly which can say a lot about how much you should trust them. The early collapse of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government led to the exit polls overrating the win of National Democratic Alliance. The NDA government did win by 296 but it was a bit less than the figure of 315 predicted.
As TV channels get ready to unleash exit polls once again on unsuspecting viewers, beware
~80% of exit poll seat predictions for all parties in large state elections since 2014 are wrong pic.twitter.com/Em8nxKjz95
— Praveen Chakravarty (@pravchak) May 16, 2019
The opinions of the political leaders on exit polls also seem to be conflicting with many accepting that these polls indeed are nearer to the actual results whereas a few denying their importance completely.
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 20, 2019
Exclusive | ‘We don’t believe in exit poll predictions, they’re not accurate’: Sitaram Yechury | lok sabha elections | Hindustan Times https://t.co/gjCUAUmbWJ
— Sachit (@Sachit70721807) May 20, 2019
So either way exit polls do not always give the exact figures but many times it has been really close to the results. That is why these predictions can be considered as probabilities and nothing more.