Are the Opinion Polls accurate?

By on April 18, 2014

Opinion Polls have become indispensable to finding out what people think and how they behave.The media has enhanced both the use and misuse of such polls. Opinion Polls can be manipulated to give a false picture of public opinion.The errors in opinion polls can be produced, intentionally or by accident. The error could be the actual wording of the questions in the interview, or the context in which the question has been asked.

Just have a look at 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha Elections Opinion Polls, both opinion polls had predicted a victory for NDA, but the Congress-led UPA had emerged triumphant. The sampling error is looking the best possibility for faulty opinion polls. The sample sizes was not large enough to overcome appropriate skepticism about their conclusions. The surveys may not be polling those who actually vote, or people are no longer responding to pre-polls truthfully. The surveys conducted suggest that something systemically wrong was taking place in their sampling data.

2004 Lok Sabha Election Opinion Polls

In 2004, for example, the final opinion polls gave the NDA a clear victory. Opinion Polls of Aajtak gave NDA alliance 248, NDTV 230-250, C-Voter 263-275, and Zee News 249. The final figures were 187 for the BJP and allies and 219 for Congress and allies. One plausible explanation why all the exit polls have gone wrong can be the channels or the research agencies were biased towards NDA. The second explanation can be small size of the sample, sample for the survey comprised one lakh people from an electorate of nearly 100 crore.


2004 elections

2009 Lok Sabha Election Opinion Polls

In 2009, too, the opinion polls were also wrong. The Star News gave the Congress plus allies 204, the NDTV gave Congress 205-215, CNN-IBN 215-235, and Times of India 201. The result: 261 to Congress+, and 159 for BJP+. The pollsters were defeated by the Indian voter.



2014 Lok Sabha Election Opinion Polls

Now in 2014 Lok Sabha Election, it will be interesting to watch whether the trend will continue further or not. If we consider the previous opinion polls, this will be disaster for the NDA.  According to 2014 Opinion Polls, the BJP-led national National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will emerge as the biggest formation in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

This year, Aam Aadmi Party entry into poll can upset all opinion polls. If AAP manage to get 50 seats, it will spoil the equation of all the surveys.

During 2004 and 2009 the BJP had given the slogan of India shining, the campaign failed as it didn’t reflect reality. In 2014, BJP emerged with a new Gujarat model, and an eye-catching slogan “Ab ki baar Modi sarkar.” We have to wail till May 16 to check whether Gujarat model has made an impact on voters or not.


Since polls will continue to be used as indicators of public opinion, the surveys should be doing more sampling to their reporting of the results. Before analyzing polls, check out whether the pre- polls conducted are in the welfare of the general public, or the media gather data furthering the interests of some particular parties

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