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Election season is upon us, and five states are going to polls. In the assembly election fray are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram. Chhattisgarh, in its first phase of assembly elections on Monday, 12 November, saw a 76.28 percent voter turnout, covering 18 assembly segments, despite Maoist threats of violence.
While the two main national parties, the BJP and the Congress are neck and neck in some states like Madhya Pradesh, in others like Rajasthan, there seems to be a clear mandate – in this case, it is the Congress that has an edge.
Here is a quick look, using data from the latest C Voter Survey, at the popularity of leaders across contesting parties, vote-share and seat-share projections, in these five states. The survey reveals that the Congress will benefit, riding on its emerging young leadership, with the likes of Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan.
Congress’s Possible Clean Sweep in Rajasthan
Rajasthan is the easiest state to call in, in the Hindi heartland states slated for polls. It is ‘advantage Congress’ here. Its party chief Sachin Pilot enjoys a clear advantage in approval ratings as compared to the BJP’s incumbent Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. The Congress’s vote share lead over BJP is more than the statistical margin of error, thereby reducing the likelihood of an ‘against the run of play’ verdict.
There was a late surge in the ruling BJP’s fortunes between August 2018 to November 2018.
From a trail of 14 percent vote share in August, it is now down to 8 percent. However, the sheer size of the Congress’s lead in the state has ensured that a change of 2 percent vote share will not impact the seat share projections much.
With the matter of ticket distribution settled and last-minute micro-management in place, the vote share trends may not differ substantially, here on. An 8 percent projected vote share lead is unlikely to be whittled down by a disjointed Rajasthan BJP.
The Congress is leading all 5 electoral regions of Rajasthan comfortably, that is, with more than 3 percent projected vote share difference. Only in Marwad and Mewar regions, the Congress’s lead is less than 5 percent in vote share; in the other three regions, the Congress is completely dominating the BJP, especially in Dhundhar and Harouti.
This is indicative of a uniform anti-incumbency mood across the state with no pocket of BJP influence shining through in the polls.
Who Will Rajasthan Choose? "Sachin Pilot" - With 38.7 % votes (C Voter Survey), most popular CM candidate in Rajasthan. "Vasundhara Raje" - With 22.7 % votes (C Voter Survey), second most popular CM candidate in Rajasthan.
The Congress’s Sachin Pilot is the most popular CM candidate in the state, followed by the incumbent CM Vasundhara Raje of BJP, Ashok Gehlot of Congress, and a former CM is a close third. With Sachin Pilot cornering 38.7 percent votes and Ashok Gehlot tallying 20.5 percent votes, a lot rides on the status of infighting.
On 14 November, the Congress laid to rest speculation about who’d be contesting elections – Gehlot or Pilot. Former state CM Ashok Gehlot said at a Congress press conference, “Hum bhi ladenge aur Sachin bhi ladenge.”
Overview: Raje & Her Govt Are Both Unpopular
Therefore, when asked to specifically choose between Pilot or Raje, we observe that Pilot can garner support from loyalists of other leaders. Thus, in leadership sweepstakes, Rajasthan Congress seems to be managing its house well.
- Rajasthan Congress is presenting a united face
- BJP’s incumbent CM and state governments are equally unpopular
- BJP is not in the fight in any of the electoral regions
- The vote share gap between INC and BJP is too wide to be bridged by a late surge
- Ticket distribution and micro-management have not impacted the projections by much
Madhya Pradesh: Neck & Neck Race
A tough one to predict. Despite a 3-term anti-incumbency and insipid state BJP, the Congress is unable to decisively tilt the scales in it favour. Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress is the most popular CM candidate here, closely followed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP.
Infighting in INC, popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and incumbent CM Chouhan’s pockets of influence are sustaining BJP in the fray. Despite all these factors, Congress has a slight edge, albeit within the statistical margin of error.
The race to Bhopal has become tighter. Owing to triple anti-incumbency and a part- rejuvenated MP Congress, we must give the benefit of doubt to the Congress. A close contest brings micro and regional factors into play. Therefore in Madhya Pradesh, a sweep in one of the regions by either party can upset the balance. The regional equation and the relative strength of the two parties in various regions may decide the election.
Also, BJP depends on the Modi dividend to garner further 2-3 percent vote share in every election, and this time also they are banking on the same, to break the deadlock.
Who Will MP Choose?
The Congress and BJP are decisively leading two regions each, while the BJP is narrowly leading 2 more regions. These regions being Mahakaushal and Nimar; any late swing in these two regions may be the difference between treasury and opposition benches. This election is now a sum total of regional elections, and both the parties should now focus on winning the same.
"Jyotiraditya Scindia " - With 41.6 % votes (C Voter Survey), MP’s most popular CM candidate. "Shivraj Singh Chouhan " - With 37.4 % votes (C Voter Survey), MP’s second most popular CM candidate.
Congress has the most popular leader in the state, and incumbent CM Chouhan is a close second. In a runoff style question, the gap between Scindia and Chouhan increases; this indicates that the faction-fighting in the Congress may not impact its fortunes to the extent suspected earlier.
Overview: Modi’s Campaign May Be the Game Changer
- It is a close election where micro-trends and regional equations may prove to be critical
- The situation may change with Prime Minister Modi’s campaign
- Congress is unable to capitalise on triple terms of anti-incumbency
- The Congress advantage in the state is within the statistical margin of error
- The race has tightened over the weeks with no sign of either party’s base yielding
Chhattisgarh: A Cliffhanger
The vote share difference between Congress has narrowed down to 0.2 percent from 1.2 percent between August 2018 to November 2018. To put it in perspective, the 2013 Vidhan Sabha results were decided by 0.7 percent vote share between the BJP and the INC.
For a state known for close verdicts, we are getting an all-time close polling data in the surveys. The reason for the same is vote-splitting by Ajit Jogi who continues to command a loyal band of followers who are ditching the INC for him. Thus, even in this case, the INC is unable to capitalise on triple-term anti-incumbency.
The INC started with a slight advantage over the BJP in August. However, that advantage is now reduced to a sliver. (PM Modi was yet to campaign when the survey responses were collected).
Therefore, it is safe to say that BJP may tilt the scales ever so slightly in its favour to squeeze a narrow win, given the moribund leadership of the state Congress, and Ajit Jogi’s vote-splitting cameo with Mayawati’s BSP.
The INC and BJP are locked bumper to bumper in all 3 regions of the state including the most critical central region. A slight move in either of the regions may precipitate a landslide for either party. Given the ground situation, it seems that BJP might be the first mover here.
Who Will Chhattisgarh Vote For?
BJP’s Raman Singh, the incumbent CM, continues to be most popular leader in the state. The leadership vacuum is hurting the Congress big time in Chhattisgarh, an announcement of a CM face may have given it some wind in the sails but currently Congress is a nameless and leaderless party.
"Raman Singh " - With 36.2 % votes (C Voter Survey), Chhattisgarh’s most popular CM candidate. "Ajit Jogi" - With 20.1 % votes (C Voter Survey), Chhattisgarh’s second most popular CM candidate.
Despite its disjointed campaign, the INC is giving a close fight, but may lose out due to the Modi dividend, leadership vacuum and CM Raman Singh’s popularity.
Overview: Jogi-Mayawati Duo Might Ruin INC’s Chances
- A cliffhanger state with razor-thin vote-share margins
- CM Raman Singh is proving to be an asset for the BJP
- Ajit Jogi and Mayawati are proving to be spoilers for the INC
- INC is leaderless and faceless in this state, unable to capitalise on triple term anti-incumbency
- PM Modi is yet to campaign in the state and may deliver the additional critical votes to his party
Telangana: Will INC-TDP Duo Hold Sway?
The INC-TDP alliance has changed the electoral landscape of the Telangana. The KCR-led TRS was expected to comfortably win the election, however, the TDP and INC bonhomie has upset those plans. The INC-TDP alliance leads the polls by 4.5 percent vote share. This lead may get strengthened owing to the bandwagon effect that causes voters to switch to a side that is winning.
Note: No data for a regional analysis was available as the INC-TDP alliance is a recent one.
Who Will Telangana Vote For? "K Chandrashekhar Rao (TRS) " - With 42.9 % votes (C Voter Survey), Telangana’s most popular CM candidate.
KCR is the most popular leader in the ‘standalone and runoff style’ polling. However, the electoral arithmetic of TDP and INC is besting his party. Perhaps this is also a critical weakness of TRS; standalone, it is unable to take on TDP and INC.
"K.Jana Reddy (INC) " - With 22.6 % votes (C Voter Survey), Telangana’s second most popular CM candidate.Overview: TDP-INC Duo May Win Despite KCR’s Charm
- Chief Minister KCR is an asset for TRS. However, a lack of alliance partners is hurting TRS now
- BJP may become electorally relevant in the state as a critical tilt partner for TRS
- As of now, the TDP-INC alliance is sure to win the state
- A loss for KCR may alter electoral landscape in Telangana and neighboring Andhra Pradesh
- TDP and INC are winning the election despite the lack of a big face to take on KCR
Mizoram: Will INC Lose its Last NE Govt?
Who Will Mizoram Vote For? "Lal Thanhawla (INC) " - With 27.3 % votes (C Voter Survey), Mizoram’s most popular CM candidate. "Zoramthanga (MNF) " - With 25.4 % votes (C Voter Survey), Mizoram’s second most popular CM candidate. "LalDuhoma (ZPM+) " - With 24.6 % votes (C Voter Survey), Mizoram’s third most popular CM candidate.Overview: Cong Wipeout May Affect LS Polls
- INC is losing out its last government in the North East. This is significant considering the favourable demographic profile
- The state polity is highly divided between the three main players INC, MNF and ZPM
- In a triple corner fight, MNF is leading the INC that is placed second by 3.5 percent vote share
- This result may have implications for Lok Sabha polls by ensuring a wipe out for INC in the North East in LS 2019
(The author is the founder-director, CVoter International. He tweets @YRDeshmukh. Views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
*Survey Methodology: Current projections based on CVoter daily tracking poll conducted during last seven days among 18+ adults statewide, including likely voters, details of which are mentioned right below the projections as of today. The data is weighted to the known demographic profile of the states. Sometimes the table figures do not sum to 100 due to the effects of rounding. Our final data file has socio-Eeonomic profile within +/- 1% of the demographic profile of the state. We believe this will give the closest possible trends. The Tracking Poll Fieldwork covers random probability samples during the last 7 days from the release date. The sample spread is across all assembly segments in the poll bound states. MoE is +/- 3% at macro level and +/- 5% at micro level with 95% confidence interval.
The data collection started on July 1st and continued until November 9th. Technically speaking, we Conducted 17 weekly waves of 7000 respondents each. But by splitting that sample into 1000 interviews every day, and making one rollover file of the last 7 days every day, we were able to analyse 40 waves of 7000 samples each. In other words, this gave us an opportunity of analyze fresh data daily for the remainder of the campaign through Election Day. For the analytics we are using our proprietary algorithm to calculate the Provincial and Regional Vote share based on the Split-Voter phenomenon. We have used this algorithm to correctly predict many demographic measurements across many democracies. As mentioned; this is a thorough random probability sample; and we are ensuring a proper representative analysis by statistical weighing of the data to make it representative of the local population as per the latest census figures.
. Read more on Elections 2019: The Countdown by BloombergQuint.