24 January, 2021

The Weather Vane Speaks

Opinion polls may err, but they must stay

The Weather Vane Speaks

There’s a puzzle. Opinion polls, which newspapers and TV channels conduct before elections, sometimes get their predictions almost right, sometimes dead wrong, often in between. Many voters, and indeed politicians, eagerly await the outcomes of surveys to suss which way the wind is blowing, but parties for whom they spell doom often raise the spectre of polls being “motivated”. These parties are shrillest in their call for a ban on opinion polls, while those whose prospects app­ear ros­ier beam in the ‘feelgood’ created by such surveys. How does one make sense of the scepticism and the frenzy that seem to go hand in hand?

The loudness of the Congress’s call for a ban is proportional to the scale of opi­nion stacked against it. Whether it would have sought a ban if surveys had veered even remotely in its favour is anybody’s guess. Similarly, there’s no surety how the BJP, now shown as a frontrunner, would have behaved if the popular mood had seemed against it. The Election Commission, in receipt of petitions from...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Anuradha Raman

Latest Magazine

February 01, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section