11 Apr 2019

Ominous signs for the BJP in UP

As polls come to a close for the first phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh, it’s clear that turnout this time is lower than 2014. That’s a very bad sign for the BJP.

Narendra Nag

Let’s break down the vote share the BJP got in 2014 across the eight seats that went to the polls today:

Seat2014 Turnout2014 BJP Vote Share2019 Turnout (7pm)
Baghpat66.97%42.17%63.90%
Bijnor63.13%45.92%65.40%
Gautam Buddha Nagar60.38%50.01%60.15%
Ghaziabad56.98%56.51%57.60%
Kairana73.05%50.56%62.10%
Meerut63.15%47.87%63.00%
Muzaffarnagar69.64%59.00%66.66%
Saharanpur74.23%39.60%70.68%

We believe we are seeing is a drop in turnout amongst likely BJP voters. Couple that with a consolidated vote for Gathbandhan candidates and it’s likely that the BJP is going to lose a majority of the seats in UP’s first phase of polling.

This is backed up by our analysis of the onground chatter we are looking at — including tweets aimed at the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh accusing him of having failed to get out the Hindu vote; vocal BJP supporters expressing dissatisfaction at people not going out to vote; and anger amongst the BJP’s party workers towards local leaders.

On Whatsapp groups we are a part of, we also saw dissatisfaction being expressed openly — especially in Kairana, where it looked like the rejected BJP candidate had thrown her weight behind the gathbandhan candidate almost entirely.

Urban pockets continue to be the only places where there is real excitement for the BJP — but it will be interesting to see what the results look like in a place like Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida) where apartment complex residents turned out in large numbers to vote for the BJP — this was evident from the messages they posted after voting where they clearly endorsed Mr Modi. But Gautam Buddha Nagar also has a section that seems to have chosen to vote along caste lines. Multiple signals suggest a section of the Gurjar vote that voted for the BJP in 2014 has switched to the Gathbandhan candidate this time.

This change in turnout means only one thing at this early stage — it is evident that the BJP’s vote share is going to drop from the highs they saw in 2014. And any drop in vote share against a consolidated opposition is bad news for the BJP.

We are not going to predict numbers, but it’s clear now that there is no Modi wave.

We modelled a drop in vote share for the BJP and a slight increase in share for the Gathbandhan using our Poll Arithmetic Calculator and the results are stunning. Try it and see for yourself.

These notes are an experiment in data-driven points of view. We are immersing ourselves in information screens and data patterns and allowing ourselves to connect dots. We emerge to write a note — like the one you’re reading — which is our best understanding at a given moment in time. We believe ourselves to be correct in the moment, but are happy to be proven wrong. In either case we learn and improve.

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