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Do Opinion Polls Distort Electoral Results

Whatever I say over this blog doesn’t matter ? Results are Results. We have to live with those results.

Democracy is a myth of choice. And the choice which you make is you want your candidate to win, but there is a certain probability that your choice might not win the Election very much similar to the probability of the candidate winning the election. This makes it a tough choice. I certainly believe there are three types of people who are part of our Electorates.

1. Who Vote for their traditional Party who they have adored and followed all their lives.
2. Who Vote for the one they prefer, mostly these are the people who swing the Elections from one side to the another. Opinion polls have an effect on these voters, thus distorting results.
3. Those who don’t Vote, and don’t mind/like whoever comes to power. Some don’t vote due to various other circumstances (out-of-town, working, etc.,), but those people either belong to the first 2 categories in most Elections, so disregarded.

There is a fourth Electorate, who in current circumstances can be claimed sold out. Whose votes are purchased by Parties involved in corruption. They also fall into the category of they don’t mind/like whoever comes to power, but certainly Vote. The number in this regard is quiet negligible and can be better avoided for consideration.

The problem with opinion polls is that they are not reliable, mainly because of the data sampling done on various constituencies. Similarly, Exit polls are also quiet unreliable, as their sample space is quiet limited. When the exit polls don’t harm a lot of results or outcomes, as the elections get already over in those constituencies, the opinion polls distort the category 2 voter who is swinging to the favor of the one who wins or loses.

For example, the one who is undecided if he learns that from an opinion poll that one candidate might win the election, he might choose to end-up on the winning side (rather than choosing the right candidate he had in mind) and vote for that candidate. Some of the skeptics can argue that this type of indecisive voters are negligible in number. But, time and again the mandate reached in polls have favored the presence of such electorate who have swung the results positively or negatively against anti-incumbency or great governance.

The courts were right to ban the Opinion Polls and thus restoring some kind of sanity to already complex predicament of the polling structure. Its almost always very difficult to predict poll results. We can never choose to say for example, if the polling percentage goes up, there will be an anti-incumbency wave. People have gotten wiser over the years and have known how to choose who to put on the respective power positions.

Even the fresh virgin voters have strong opinion on who they might choose or prefer getting elected for power.  Most of these changes can be attributed to increased literacy, awareness and information flowing through media.

With the dwindling of Category 1 voters from vote banks and Category 3 voters who won’t vote, we are in verge of massive renaissance in Electoral Politics in the coming elections, hopefully parties who are tuned to older tricks now just man-up and take accountability as one of their prime focus points to win elections.

Its high-time a few Electoral Reforms are also put in place by the Election Commission to include accountability of an elected representative as well as qualifications for being nominated for specialized posts within the government, etc., are taken care of. And more reforms if people request. The first step might be to create a open discussion forum and prepare a Draft Electoral Bill which abolishes a lot of stone-age practices currently applied, very much similar to the Draft Taxes Code brought in by the Finance Ministry.

Jay is the Founder of JKL Technologies (http://www.jkltech.in), which specializes in SaaS products on the cloud & Mobile Apps. JKL Technologies is also known for Cloud Consultation for various enterprises to move from their current intranet (on premise) Apps to the Cloud. Nerd @ Heart & Competitive by Nature.

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