Why BJP lost seats as compared to 2012 although it increased its vote share

The Gujarat elections results are out, and the BJP has secured 99 seats whereas the Congress has reached 77 seats. A comparison purely based on seats shows that BJP’s tally has come down from the 115 seats of 2012 whereas Congress has moved up from the 61 seats it won then. But the vote-share statistics show something different.

If one sees the voteshare percentages for last 2 Gujarat assembly elections, one can see that BJP’s performance in 2017 is as good as its 2007 tally, when Modi was at his peak. But, while they secured 117 seats in 2007, this time around they won only 99 seats. The same vote share percentage yielded 18 seats less. On an absolute basis as well, 49.10% is a staggering voter share percentage.

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The seats obtained from this voteshare are lower this time around because the Congress managed to increase its voteshare from 38% in 2007 to 41.40%. The incremental 3.1% helped Congress massively. Even so, BJP still has a healthy lead of 7.7% over Congress’s voteshare. Then why the reduction in seats?

It is possible that the votes for BJP were all concentrated whereas Congress’s votes were spread more evenly across. Now that the results are out, an analysis reveals exactly this.

The highest margin for a BJP victory is 1.17 lacs in Ghatlodia. Whereas the highest margin for the Congress is just 50,776 in Mandvi. In fact, BJP won in 20 seats with margins of 50,000+ whereas Congress won just the Mandvi seat with 50,000+ margin. In all these 20 seats, the votes beyond the Congress mark are basically useless. The same votes, if secured in some other seats may have meant something. This is why we see the aberration between voteshare and seats.

A deeper analysis reveals that the BJP’s average margin is also much higher. BJP’s average margin is 29,967 whereas the Congress’s average margin is just 13,239. A margin wise split of seats won is as below:

While the BJP won big, the Congress won smaller, but more, as compared to their earlier performances. Thus in spite of a lower voteshare, it kind of punched above its weight.

When we see the data of past elections also, we see that the average margin has substantially increased for BJP, whereas the margin for Congress has actually decreased:

While in politics, a victory is a victory regardless of margins, for a political party to truly prosper in the long term, it must be willing to introspect and strategise to gain lost ground in the next election. BJP is known to be brutal as far as self analysis is concerned, and perhaps, why the party couldn’t win the same number of seats as 2012 and 2007, despite increasing it’s vote share is something that the party needs to figure out and rectify going forward.

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