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We wear glasses with no colour when we look at data, says Kalli Purie on getting another election right

Delhi assembly elections was the fifth exit poll bang on by India Today Group-Axis-My-India

Kalli Purie

The India Today-Axis-My-India exit poll predicted the Aam Aadmi Party's sweep in the February 8 vote, giving it between 59 and 68 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly. Its nearest rival, the BJP and its allies were projected to get two to 11 seats and the Congress none.

By Tuesday evening, the predictions turned out to be accurate, with the AAP securing 62, the BJP eight and the Congress scored a duck.

India Today Group claimed that its exit polls are meticulously accurate because the surveys go beyond the numbers.

In Delhi, for instance, the pollsters measured voting behaviours, preferences and predispositions of the city's diverse demography.

Like a thorough statistical exercise, the survey delved deeper into the voters' educational background, economic conditions, work, age-groups, caste, and religious affiliations.

The same model was adopted in every exit poll.

Kalli Purie, Vice-Chairperson, India Today Group, said, "Every time we get a poll right, the stakes get higher. This was our fifth poll bang on. The trust put in us by our viewers is a big responsibility and makes us work harder (and gives us many sleepless nights!). People keep asking me what's the secret sauce that even your bitterest competitor quotes and copies your poll. The answer is simple. We wear glasses with no colour when we look at data. Data is always neutral. The partnership of the best data input from Axis and serious ground reporting from our team before every election has made this incredible feat possible. Having an unparalleled platform with the combined muscle of broadcast, digital and social also helps a little.”

Pradeep Gupta, Chief of Axis-My-India, attributes his successful predictions to team work and scientific monitoring of voter behaviour. "We follow international best practices. Our methodology is highly refined that helps us eliminate margins of error," he explained. "Our sampling is the most demographically and politically representative in any given election. There's zero tolerance for any compromise on quality. That's perhaps the reason why the Harvard Business School is doing a case study on Axis-My-India for the GE 2019 predictions."

The earlier polls that the India Today-Axis My India got right:

Jharkhand forecast

The India Today-Axis-My-India exit poll forecast the fall of the BJP in Jharkhand, giving it 22-32 constituencies in the 81-seat state Assembly. The opposition alliance comprising the JMM, the Congress and the RJD were projected to secure 38 to 50 seats.

The actual results were no different. The BJP won 25 and the opposition alliance 47 seats.

Haryana, Maharashtra forecast

In Haryana, the India Today-Axis-My-India forecast 32-44 for the ruling BJP. The survey foresaw the Congress ranks swelling in the range of 30-42 seats.

The actual results delivered 40 seats to the BJP and 31 to the Congress.

In Maharashtra, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, then in a pre-election alliance, together secured 161 seats, and the NCP-Congress 98, as predicted in the India Today-Axis-My-India exit poll.

The Sena and the NCP-Congress eventually stitched a new alliance together to form the state government.

Of all the elections that took place in India between 2013 and 2020 to date, India Today-Axis My India post-poll surveys have given the most accurate predictions in 95% of the cases.

Since 2013, Axis My India has conducted 40 post-poll surveys, of which 38 have been spot on. Since their association with India Today in 2016, the pollsters have predicted 35 elections, of which 33 turned out to be accurate.

Conducting the largest exit poll for the world's largest democracy the 2019 general elections, the India Today-Axis My India exit poll, for instance, predicted 339-365 seats for the BJP-led NDA and 77-108 seats for the UPA in the new Lok Sabha. In actual results, the NDA got 352 and the UPA 92 seats in the lower house of parliament.

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