This is the most interesting day in the election season. Two days after elections and one day before results. Hope, fear, disbelief – it is all there. Tomorrow will be different; it will all look so simple. I took some time off yesterday to take a look at the notes taken during this election season. There are always some moments which prick you, you are not instantly able to decipher these but over time they start to make sense. There are 3 such moments in this season which struck me,
- Albatross around the neck moment – There is this story of a monkey which walks beneath a bullock cart and proudly feels that he is the one carrying the cart. The bullocks meanwhile toil hard but have no time to display bravado. INC is the monkey and SP the bullocks in our case. Akhilesh willingly tied a dead weight around his neck. I don’t know whether it was low confidence, pragmatism, recklessness or just a brain fade but giving 105 seats to a party which has no idea of what to do with it defies logic. Nevertheless, Akhilesh is here to stay. If BSP gets an insignificant number of seats this time around, BJP and SP should be the main contenders in UP for some time to come.
- The Donald Trump Moment: During the primaries and election campaigning, Trump used barbs against his opponents, eg: Crooked Hillary. Media described them as deplorable predicting his downfall. But as we saw later, they were not just random impromptu ramblings. There was careful analytics based on unstructured data collected from various sources. They identified keywords which would create maximum impact and were used carefully at appropriate locations. When, ‘Kabristan’ and ‘Samshan’ erupted, it gave me a familiar feeling. Turns out it was the same. BJP had carried out 2 detailed surveys in UP to identify pain points. Identified issues were crafted in a strategy and delivered from the highest level.
- The Hangover Moment: Something strange happened after the 4th: BSP, who had been a footnote so far started receiving more attention. There was a spurt of articles reminding one of the silent vote and warning against counting Mayawati out. This, I believe was a hangover of Brexit and US elections -we are so eager to recreate everything that has happened in the West. Much has been written about Trump’s silent vote and our media searching for gladiators found refuge in Mayawati and her hidden vote. But in the case of Trump, apprehensions were backed by solid observations. When opinion polls were conducted in the US, telephonic polls gave Hillary a higher probability of winning as against anonymous online polls. The conclusion was that there is a stigma attached to a Trump voter which makes them hide their preferences. No such observation was revealed here, yet the silent vote story. That the timing of these stories coincided with trends of SP+INC fizzling out was actually a giveaway. In despair, Hope becomes a strategy and we start clutching onto straws.
The UP voter is not silent; he is vocal and has strong opinions. It is this trait perhaps which helps pollsters to gauge ki hawa ka rukh kidhar hai. Here is a quick look at previous UP exit polls,
In all 3 cases, our pollsters predicted the ‘hawa’ correctly but were conservative with number of seats for the winning party. If the past is any indication of the future, we might see another landslide tomorrow