In the aftermath of the Balakot airstrikes in February 2019, national security superseded all other issues as the No.1 priority for many Indians. In the weeks following the airstrikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw a huge upsurge in his approval ratings, rising from 32% in the beginning of the year to over 60%.
Entering the election season on the back of that momentum, BJP was expected to comfortably win the national elections and form the government. This expectation has now been reinforced by the exit poll results, which predict that the BJP-led NDA will easily form the government.
But is this a fair estimate?
Predicting election results is difficult anywhere in the world but it is even more difficult in a country as diverse as India, where polling takes place over seven phases and more than a month. Even though exit polls suggest that the Modi led-BJP will comfortably form a government, leaving the Congress far behind, recent electoral surprises have warned us not to take anything for granted. Both Brexit and the American election results were a surprise, where exit polls, psephologists and popular media had predicted that the ‘Remain’ camp and Hillary Clinton, respectively, would win. Just this weekend, Australians were in for a surprise as the country’s ruling coalition defied exit polls to defeat the Labour party.
In fact, a comparison between exit polls and final results for India also shows that exit polls often get it wrong.