400 Paar? Most Exit Polls Go Wide Off The Mark Again

An aggregate of exit polls had predicted 365 Lok Sabha seats to the NDA.

400 Paar? Most Exit Polls Go Wide Off The Mark Again

The prediction for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh was 68 seats.

New Delhi:

When the exit polls came out after the last phase of polling on Saturday, an overwhelming majority of them spoke in one voice and also gave the BJP and the NDA an overwhelming majority. The poll of polls, an aggregate of 14 exit polls, had given 365 Lok Sabha seats to the NDA, up from the 352 it had won in 2019, and just 146 to the INDIA alliance.

Three of the exit polls, including two that have been known to be fairly accurate before, had, in fact, said that the NDA could even touch the 400 figure - the target it had set for itself, spawning the slogan 'ab ki baar 400 paar' - and the BJP could get around 330 seats on its own, up from the 303 it had won last time.

Three days on, leads suggest they were off the mark - by a huge margin. As of Tuesday afternoon, the NDA is winning 291 seats, 74 short of the average predicted by the exit polls. The BJP - at 241 - also looks set to fall not just short of the figure predicted by the polls but even the majority mark of 272.

One of the biggest stories of these elections is Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is leading only in 33 seats - down to nearly half from 62 in 2019 - and it is also a reflection of how wide off the mark the exit polls were. On average, the pollsters had given the BJP 68 seats and the INDIA bloc - of which the Samajwadi Party and the Congress are the main constituents in the state - only 12. The Samajwadi Party is leading in 36 seats and the Congress in 7, taking their combined tally to 43.

Most exit polls ahead of the West Bengal assembly elections in 2021 had also given over 100 of the state's 294 seats to the BJP, with some even predicting that the party would cross the majority mark of 148, forming the government there. The party had ended up winning 77 seats. 

Health warning: Exit polls often get it wrong.