Exit Polls: Are we (Indians) liars or is our methodology wrong?


Though India is the largest democracy in the world, predicting election results seem to be loosing business here.  Elections after elections people are losing faith in the so-called exit poll surveys by experts in the industry. The recent exit poll surveys in Gujarat were just another addition. What could be the reasons for it? Sakshi Research Team surveys the experts!!!

Putting things in perspective:

Before we begin, let us first review the exit poll survey results versus the actual results. Remember the actual seats should have been within the maximum limit predicted. Moreover, considering the number of seats and the number of contestants (just two big players), the prediction should have more precision (higher probability). Unfortunately it widely misses the mark.

Exit poll done by Seats Predicted December 16 2007 Actual Seats Dec 23 2007
NDTV BJP: 90-110 Congress:  70-95Others: 3-7 BJP: 117Congress: 62
CNN-IBN-CSDS BJP:  92 to 100 seatsCongress: 77-85 seatsOthers: 3-7 seats BJP: 117Congress: 62
Source: The Hindu, December 16, 2007

What could be the reasons?

Reason 1: Assumptions of Media were wrong

The Times of India: Ashwani Windlass writes in the column titled: Recent days have seen two major elections whose outcome surprised both political pundits and media. These are – Uttar Pradesh, which saw Mayawati's BSP emerging victorious, and Gujarat, where the incumbent Narendra Modi's B

JP swept polls for the third consecutive time.

And then continues: The media has been a prisoner of its own myth in both the cases. In both polls, its election forecast/exit polls were far from correct. The reason is simple. Media only thrives on news making. News making in 'modern-day media of cutthroat competition' leaves serious issues on credibility. News, even if sustained for long is short-lived and does not necessarily represent an opinion. The electronic media adopts an opinionated stance on what it calls a newsy issue but is different from the public opinion. By sheer definition, positive aspects of governance do not make news. (Times of India, 26 Dec 2007, An opportunity for straightening)

Are you convinced? We are not.

Reason 2: Samples were not enough

Not so. See the statistics below:

Exit poll done by Number of voters surveyed Number of Constituencies Covered
NDTV 18,100 61
CNN-IBN 9,000 60
Source: The Hindustan Times, December 23, 2007

Reason 3: Indians are compulsive liars

Chandan Mitra in his column in the Daily Pioneer wrote: I have often expressed my deep skepticism about opinion polls, although I must admit that they do make compelling reading or viewing. Rarely have these cursory sample surveys, usually churned out by a host of fly-by-night operators, turned out accurate. There are a variety of reasons why opinion polls serve no other purpose than provide artificial excitement to politicians and journalists. These polls usually fail to reflect the eventual outcome because, among other things, Indians are compulsive liars. We refuse to divulge our preferences in public, so much so that people come out of a polling booth and still lie about whom they voted for! Ours is the only country where even exit polls are routinely known to go wrong. International polling organizations of repute, such as Gallup, are yet to set up shop in India despite ours being the world's biggest democracy and the business prospect of roping in a plethora of media houses as clients ought to be attractive. Such firms only provide technical consultancy to some polling or market research outfits, but baulk at the thought of accepting full responsibility for the outcome.( Un-Predictable, that's UP).

Are you convinced? We are sort of.


But can w

e lie for a preference?


Is our commitment to the Truth is overruled by a preference of us? Then what kind of commitment we have to the Truth. Can there be any occasion where we should lie?


St. Augustine posed the following situations: Suppose a man should take refuge with you, who by your lie might be saved from death, would you not tell it? If a sick man should ask a question which it is not expedient that he should know, and might be more grievously afflicted even by your returning him no answer, will you venture either to tell the truth to the destruction of the man's life, or rather to hold your peace, than by a virtuous and merciful lie to be serviceable to his weak health? By these and such like arguments they think they most plentifully prove, that if occasion of doing good require, we may sometimes tell a lie. (St Augustine, on Lying).


Do we agree? No not at all. Because Truth is more precious.


St. Augustine adds: And yet if any man should propose to himself so to love truth, not only that which consists in contemplation, but also in uttering the true thing, which each in its own kind of things is true, and no otherwise to bring forth with the mouth of the body his thought than in the mind it is conceived and beheld; so that he should prize the beauty of truth-telling honesty, not only above gold and silver and jewels and pleasant lands, but above this temporal life itself altogether and every good thing of the body, I know not whether any could wisely say that that man errs. (Read the entire article here)


Such love for the truth can come only when one worships the God who is the Truth- our beloved Jesus Christ. The problem with our nation is that we are not worshipping the God who is Truth in truth and spirit. We earnestly pray that there will be a transformation in our nation.



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