Exit Polls: The Reason Why India’s Exit Polls Cannot Be Trusted

With the election season in some parts of the country, the usual routine of conducting exit polls is also making a place in the news equally.  Recently, exit polls of Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal were conducted and some already expected results were made public.  And I am pretty sure celebrations are already on for the ‘exit poll’ winners.

But in a country like India, do you think we can really trust these ‘exit polls?’

Do exit polls, especially the ones conducted BEFORE actual polling really predict the results of an exit poll? i.e. whether the result of an exit poll will influence the result of an actual and comprehensive poll that might follow sometime later. Exit polls aren’t stock markets- here people vote for the one they like and not for the one they think is going to win.

EXIT POLLS, 14TH PRECINCT, 'May I ask who you voted for, sir?', 'Please! -- I'm trying to forget!'

Read on to find out why we cannot simply trust exit polls.


In the 2004 US Presidential elections, exit polls suggested a clear victory for Kerry by 6,00,000 votes. However when the actual counting was completed and the results were announced it turned out that the winning party was Bush and that too by about 3,00,000 votes.  If the exit polls of such a developed and financially sound country can show such a discrepancy, can the Indian exit polls be trusted?

There is a reason behind mentioning ‘financially sound.’  Exit polls are quite a costly business. There are special agencies who conduct these.  In a country with a population of 1.2 billion, can you vaguely estimate the amount of time, manpower and of course, the money that will be involved in conducting the exit polls? I am not saying we can’t afford these. Let’s say we can. But isn’t it possible that to afford this somewhere quietly the agencies might compromise with the QUALITY of conduct?


Besides being a costly business, exit polls have few other shortcomings which cannot be overlooked. For example, a TV sting operation claimed that about 11 polling agencies were ready to alter their results for a small amount of money. Clearly, corruption on every level is creeping in the country. How far can we trust such sources that are ready to bend for a tiny twig? We cannot simply trust exit polls now, can we?

On a personal note, I’d always give it a thought before completely  trusting this considering we are still in a country where ‘paisa bolta hai.’ Let me know your thoughts about this in the comments.

Meanwhile, you might like reading:

Bihar Elections Through The Lens Of A Common Man


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