NEW DELHI: Is the Orwellian world expanding, as described in the Bihari writer’s classic novel 1984? For a world where sui"/>
RIBHU RANJAN | 21 MAY, 2019
The Great Exit Poll Fraud
Basic errors, flawed methods, and many flipflops
NEW DELHI: Is the Orwellian world expanding, as described in the Bihari writer’s classic novel 1984? For a world where suitable facts are supplied on order and put in cold storage once the job is done, we need look no further than the crop of exit polls being broadcast since polls closed on Sunday.
The seat-wise predictions published by the India Today-Axis My India exit polls were removed from several web pages, including the Axis’ official website, after people over social media on pointed out errors in some of its predictions.
The Axis My India web pages containing the state-wise seat share and vote share data were taken down and “404 Not Found” error message was put up.
The predictions made by the India Today-Axis Exit Poll were also criticised over the methodology adopted to determine the predictions, as the exit poll says it is “Based purely on the popularity of the political party during exit polls and not based on the individual candidate.” People were not asked which party's candidate they voted for. Hence, AMI adds in its disclaimer, “we cannot be held responsible for any variation of the winning or losing of the individual candidate stated in the seat-wise results.”
Then, the Axis My India exit poll named all five Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttrakhand wrongly. It showed Sadulshahar, Ganganagar, Karanpur, Suratgarh and Raisingh Nagar as parliamentary constituencies, but these are Assembly constituencies. Uttarakhand’s five parliamentary seats are Tehri Garhwal, Almora, Garhwal, Haridwar, and Nainital Udhamsingh Nagar.
After social media criticism, the seatwise predictions published by India Today-Axis My India were removed from several websites, including AMI’s official website, where the pages containing statewise seat share predictions and vote share data were also taken down. A “404 Not Found” error message greeted users for a while. Later the pages were restored to reflect the same data, only with the constituency-wise popularity polls removed.
And in at least one case, there wasn't even any need for the winning candidate to be contesting. The India Today-Axis My India poll showed the Congress winning from Chennai Central. But the Congress isn’t contesting from this seat. Its alliance partner DMK is contesting from here and former union minister Dayanidhi Maran is the party’s candidate.
If any of this has you wondering about exit polls' reliability, longtime journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, nowadays with India Today, said on Twitter:
“To those asking why exit polls can’t go wrong in India if they did in Australia, Brexit, US, pl note: in these other instances, polls were in a CLOSE CONTEST scenario. Here, a LANDSLIDE stares at us. There may be variations in states/nos but direction clear.”
After the India Today poll’s flawed method and numerous errors came to light, Sardesai tried distancing himself by tweeting:
“Since last night, lots of people asking: are your numbers for ‘real’? a.) numbers not ‘mine’ but Axis b.) we have gone by raw data c.) poll picks up a trend, not just a number d) Axis has a good track record and its reputation is on line e) polls can go wrong!”
His colleague and broadcast journalist Rahul Kanwal on Twitter said:
“There are some people who are wondering why Axis My India has withdrawn seat by seat numbers from its website. The seat by seat #IndiaTodayAxisPoll predictions are available on the India Today website.”
The India Today now contains a disclaimer similar to Axis My India: “Seat by seat analysis is based purely on the popularity of the political party during exit polls and not based on the individual candidate. Hence, Axis My India cannot be held responsible for any variation of the winning or losing of the individual candidate stated in the seat-wise results.”