IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 12th Nov 2020

“Just know, when you truly want success, you’ll never give up on it. No matter how bad the situation may get.” – Unknown

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #238 :“How Should Smart Exit Polls look like ? | UPSC

How Should Smart Exit Polls look like ? | UPSC

Atanu Biswas
How Should Smart Exit Polls look like ? | UPSC

Atanu Biswas is Professor of Statistics at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata


Myths and the reality of election forecasts


It is difficult to comment on the predictions of most Indian pollsters as they do not publish their methodology


Why exit polls are not trustworthy in this digital age ?Do exit polls effect the voter’s perception ?Elucidate -(GS 2)


  • Phantom Voters
  • Exit Polls depends on
  • Surveys and lessons
  • Precision of Exit Polls (Important)
  • Way Forward


  • PREDICTIONS GO WRONG : Political experts struggled to explain the election outcome and claimed the polls “behaved badly
  • SILENT VOTERS : There are possible phantom voters and uncounted votes in the election procedure.

However, the final national exit poll was the real “Smoking Gun”.

  • SMALL DIFFERENCES : The difference between the vote shares of John Kerry and George W. Bush was 6.5% more than the actual.



  • CREDIBILITY : Interestingly though, such was the credibility of exit polls even one and a half decades ago.

The Venezuelan recall referendum of 2004 to determine whether Hugo Chávez, then President, should be recalled from office.

  • HUGE MISMATCH : A huge discrepancy with the exit poll created a massive uproar worldwide.

The “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine during late November 2004 to January 2005 was also in the immediate aftermath of the presidential election.

  • BENEFITTING THE OPPONENTS : The allegations of electoral fraud were strengthened by several exit polls exhibiting a substantial lead for Viktor Yushchenko.
  • ROSE REVOLUTION : Similarly, widespread protests triggered the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, and culminated in the ousting of President Eduard Shevardnadze.
  • POPULAR VOTE SHARE : The difference between the predicted percentage of votes for Mr. Biden and U.S. President Donald Trump compared to Mr. Biden’s final lead is more than 3%.


  • SELECTION BIAS : Poll predictions have failed miserably on many historical occasions including some which were in the developing process.

Certainly, the winner of opinion/exit polls is not necessarily the winner in the election

  • MISLEADING PROJECTIONS : Most of the opinion polls of the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections either failed to project the winner or to foresee the margin of victory.


  • SAMPLING : Underlying statistical principles used by pollster in designing, sampling, and analysing their data.
  • REMOTE COVERAGE : Coverage of remote corners of the country and cover sensitive booths.
  • MARGIN OF ERROR : Maintain the requirements for standard ‘3 percentage points margin of error’.
  • ESTIMATIONS : Representing the population by approximately maintaining the proportions across gender, age, income, religion, caste.

Sample size, sampling frame, method of sampling and estimation, and of course summary statistics across different margins of variability are not provided by most of the pollsters.

  • QUALITY OF PREDICTION : Thus, it is almost impossible to comment on the quality of their predictions, from a statistical point of view.
  • REGULATIONS : Unless strong regulations enforce today’s pollsters to publish their methodology and summary statistics across different variables, poll predictions may not regain the trust of the people.

      IASbhai Windup: 

  • TECHNOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS : There have been a lot of improvements in methodology.
  • ELECTIONS VALIDATE RESULTS : Nobody really knows until the election, because only elections validate results.

Polls are always going to be a snapshot of a single point in time, so the polling that’s closest to the election is the most predictive.

  • MARGIN OF ERROR : No matter what, there’s going to be a distribution of forecasts and a margin of error in surveys, and we need to remain cognizant of that.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | How Should Smart Exit Polls look like ? | UPSC

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