Assembly elections

Despite converging vote shares, opinion polls give BJP a comfortable win in Gujarat

An average of three polls said BJP will bag 110 seats in the 182-strong assembly, with Congress getting 70.

The Congress might have gotten a fillip from an opinion poll published earlier this week that showed it neck and neck in terms of vote share in Gujarat, but that survey’s seat prediction as well as those of two more pollsters predicts a comfortable victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party. With the last few days of campaigning upon us, a look at the opinion polls suggests incremental rather than exponential gains for the Congress, despite the amount of disaffection and support it appeared to have tapped into.

All three of the pollsters here, CSDS, VMR and CVoter, are giving the BJP around 110 seats, or something within that range. The Gujarat assembly has a total of 182 seats, with the halfway mark sitting at 91. By that measure, 110 seats counts as a comfortable victory for the BJP. The Congress, meanwhile, would be 21 seats short of that mark.

As such, this would suggest incremental changes within the polity for both parties. For one, it would not even come close to the 150-seat target that BJP President Amit Shah set for his party at the start of the campaign. It would also broadly mean a 10-seat swing towards the Congress from the BJP, which has been winning around 120 seats to the Congress’ 60 in the last few elections.

Remember, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said a drop in even two seats will lead to questions within the BJP – queries that will have to be asked if these opinion polls get it right.

In general, however, seat predictions are a tricky thing in the first-past-the-post system, since they involve trying to convert a more straightforward voting intention result from a survey into a likely distribution of seats. To that end, it might be more relevant looking at the vote share predictions from the same pollsters.

Here the picture is a little more interesting, though still weighed towards the BJP. CSDS, as it revealed a few days ago, suggested the Congress had pulled off a huge surge in the last three months and is now neck and neck with the BJP at 43%. The other two give the BJP a comfortable 5 percentage point lead, which comes to an average of 44.8% predicted for the BJP and an average of 41.6% for the Congress.

Again this represents a tightening of results compared to previous years. In 2012, for example, the BJP got 47.9% of the vote, while the Congress had just 38.9%, a difference of 9 percentage points. The polls seem to suggest the margins will be much closer this year, with the average putting the gap at 3.2 percentage points and at least one pollster saying the parties are neck-and-neck.

Gujarat goes to the polls in two phases, with the first on December 9 and the second on December 14. The results are expected on December 18.

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