May 12 is the last phase of voting in India’s general election, and over 90 percent of the country’s voters have already gone to the polls. At this late stage in many democratic contests, statistics gurus would be feverishly crunching the exit and opinion-poll numbers to offer up a semi-credible prediction of the results. But India’s national elections have always been more a black box than a horse race, given the influence of local politics and the lack of credible voting analysis.
This time around, the results seem less predictable than ever, with a third party in the form of the Aam Aadmi showing unexpected strength, voting in individual states not turning out the way it was expected to, allegations of malpractice prompting re-voting, and confusion about which candidate is going to be helped by record-high voter turnout.
There are a few things we do know, though. Sure, based on early opinion-poll data mostly taken before voting started, India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, was predicted to sweep the upcoming national elections so soundly that the results were described as a “thumping victory” for the party and the “worst-ever defeat” for the incumbent Congress Party. The latest opinion poll in the hotly contested state of Varanasi, taken by AAJ Tak, promises the BJP will win by “leaps and bounds,” and is accompanied by an incredibly bullish “NaMo Mania in Numbers” graphic:
There’s little argument that the BJP has run a forceful and effective campaign, and the Congress Party a particularly lackluster one, or that Indian voters are hungry for a change in national leadership.