Punjab and UP Opinion Polls Suggest Game Still On

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This article was last updated on May 25, 2022

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Two channels, ABP News (CSDS) and India Today (Axis) have carried out opinion polls for the four states which go to polls in Feb. and Mar. 2017. While both predict the same winner in Uttarakhand (BJP) and Goa (BJP), the two polls have produced starkly different results for Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

Uttarakhand is easy to predict (you don’t need a pollster) as since inception of the state it has voted out out the incumbent govt. every time it seeks re-election. For the first time in Goa’s history, BJP won the state in 2012. As with most BJP governments, BJP is expected to be re-elected, AAP cutting into minority vote-bank of Congress especially in South Goa. Anyways, these two states send only seven MPs and not that important as UP and Punjab which send 93 MPs.

For the most important battleground of UP, ABP predicts a hung assembly with united SP emerging as single largest party (146). On the other hand, India Today predicts a comfortable BJP win with 211 seats. In terms of vote share ABP predicts BJP will get 26% while India Today predicts 33% vote share for party, huge difference of 7%. Needless to say that one of them will be proved wrong on counting day, in-fact both of them could turn out to be wrong.

India Today poll gives BJP a vote share of 33% which is 1% lower than the 20% average loss of vote share recorded by the party in ten assembly polls after central elections {(42.6% X (1-20%)} = 34%). SP’s 26% vote share looks ok considering anti-incumbency could lead to a loss of 2%-3% points compared to last state elections. BSP is practically holding onto its 2012 vote share of 26% which again is ok considering the fact that it is not able to gain from anti-incumbency (primarily due to poor law and order situation in the state). The anti-SP vote is all being captured by BJP.

ABP poll shows SP at 30% (1% higher than last polls) which is high in my opinion (IMO) considering anti-incumbency (though not huge) and feud in Yadav family which would piss off its hardcore Yadav and Muslim vote base. BSP at 22% is very low IMO, it has always received more than 25% vote share in this century, considering it would get 15% vote share from Dalits alone. BJP at 27% means that it is losing c.40% votes compared to LS polls, a feat which it didn’t even achieve in Delhi, where it received a drubbing.

In UP, parties have not yet announced their candidates, except for BSP. Yadav family feud has also raised a question mark over who their final candidate will be (AY camp or SPY camp). In fact if there is a split (which seems imminent, but innumerable twists and turns means, rapprochement still possible), there would be two candidates from SP camp on each seat. SP’s alliance with Congress has not yet been finalized and BJP is waiting for others to announce candidates instead of playing on its strengths. All this implies that picture is not clear and anything could happen in this triangular contest.

For Punjab, ABP predicts a hung assembly with Akalis along with BJP falling just five seats short of majority (54 seats). On the other hand, India Today predicts a Congress win with 59 seats (halfway mark) and NDA at third place with just 20 seats. ABP gives AAP 15 seats while India Today gives it 38. Did they conduct polls in the same state?

India Today poll projects vote share of 24% for NDA (Akalis + BJP). This reckons as their worst performance in history since 1992. In 1992 Congress swept Punjab in the aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s death and Akalis were reduced to 5% odd vote share levels. This is not entirely impossible as ten years of continuous rule usually generates anti-incumbency against any govt. but a bit on the lower side. Corruption charges and Badal’s inability to control the drug menace may work to their disadvantage.

AAP has worked hard on the ground and managed to generate significant wave against ruling party, though it appears that this is working to the advantage of Congress. Congress vote share of 35% is actually 5% lower than their 2012 tally. This shows AAP is denting vote share of both Akalis and Congress in a sensational debut with 29% (+5% compared to LS polls).

ABP poll shows NDA at 34% (1% lower than central elections), INC at 31% (2% lower than LS polls) and AAP at 21% (-3.5 vs LS polls). The theme here is that anti Akali vote is getting split between AAP and INC ensuring their return. Punjab elections can be much closer than anticipated by the polls.

On the leadership issue, though, both polls produce similar results with Akhilesh and Captain Amarinder leading the pack. In recent polls we have seen that party whose leader enjoys better rating goes onto win the elections. Will this hold true again remains to be seen. Issue is compounded by the fact that BJP and AAP have not declared CM candidates and hence their leaders do not get the same top of the mind recall during surveys. 

To sum up, the stark results show that the game is fairly open in both states. Each seat will be keenly contested and candidate selection / campaign strategy / voter outreach programs will decide who wins these two states. Stay tuned….

Image Credit: http://politicsmadepublic.com/

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