Seminar issue on election surveys in India

The August issue of Seminar, a monthly journal on national and international issues, is titled Measuring Democracy and features articles from leading figures on polling in India, as well as articles on the state polling in the UK, the US, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Among the articles is one I co-authored with Dhananjai Joshi on the polling industry in India, which includes some findings and interview quotations from my year of research.

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Unfortunately, all articles from the issue will not be available online until September 1. Until then, please read Rahul Verma’s introductory article.

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South Asia @ LSE Blog Post

I spent the last week at the London School of Economics attending a workshop for the Explaining Electoral Change in Urban and Rural India (EECURI) research project. The project is a collaboration between anthropologists and political scientists from around the world, and it was great to see the range of research that is presently happening to understand Indian politics at the national, state, and local level. During the workshop, I wrote a post for the South Asia @ LSE Blog summarizing the principal findings of my research over the last year.

Analysis of CSDS Tamil Nadu pre-poll in Indian Express

Today’s Indian Express has the Lokniti-CSDS analysis of the pre-poll conducted in Tamil Nadu. The leading article by Rahul Verma and P. Ramajayam examines the pivotal role of women in Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s victory. Here’s the key takeaway:

The comparative credibility of leadership seems to have acquired a gender dimension in Tamil Nadu. Women voters delivered a decisive verdict in favour of Jayalalithaa and her party.

While the turnout was 73% for both male and female voters, there were 4 lakh more registered women voters than men. Survey data suggest that women voters rallied behind Jayalalithaa in greater numbers than ever before. The AIADMK led the DMK alliance by 10 percentage points among women voters and, thus, Jayalalithaa’s party drew its votes from the bigger share of the pie. Her party has had an advantage among women voters earlier, but the gap has never been this stark and large.

More women than men found Jayalalithaa a better administrator. They perceived her as caring more for them and for the poor than DMK chief M Karunanidhi. Compared to men, women voters were also less likely to think the AIADMK government was corrupt, the data show; on the other hand, they were more likely to think of Karunandhi as very corrupt. Women voters in comparison to men were more likely to give another chance to the AIADMK. This pattern is replicated across caste, class, and other demographic variables.

Links to all articles below:

On the role of women in Jayalalithaa’s victory by Rahul Verma and P. Ramajayam

On why the DMK fell short by Sam Solomon

On the poor showing of the People’s Welfare Front by Pranav Gupta

On the popularity of prohibition in Kerala and Tamil Nadu by Vibha Attri and Jyoti Mishra

Analysis of CSDS Kerala pre-poll in Indian Express

Today’s Indian Express has the Lokniti-CSDS analysis of the pre-poll conducted in Kerala. The headline article by Rahul Verma, Pranav Gupta, and Nitin Mehta examines the reasons for the BJP’s emergence in Kerala. Here’s they key takeaway:

…the BJP is cutting into the support base of both coalitions [LDF and UDF]. The upper-caste Nairs have remained the nucleus of BJP’s social coalition in Kerala and the party in this election received more votes among this section than the UDF. The BJP’s alliance with SNDP (a social organisation of Ezhavas), however, has not resulted in the desired effects. The Ezhavas are a numerically dominant backward-caste community and represent almost half of the state’s Hindu population. The BJP’s support among the community increased by merely five percentage points in comparison to the Lok Sabha election. Even among the Ezhavas, who reported to be associated with the SNDP, the NDA was far behind the two alliances.

The BJP’s vote share among the Dalits has increased significantly in this election. In fact, the BJP and the UDF won equally among the Dalits, who have historically remained aligned with the LDF. The survey data also suggests that the BJP has succeeded in winning a small segment of Christian voters. Does this development indicate a formation of a new social coalition in Kerala? Can Rajagopal replicate BJP’s Goa model where Manohar Parikkar built a coalition around upper-caste Hindus and Christians? Will the BJP succeed in making further inroads in Kerala?

In the past, the BJP’s success in new frontiers like Karnataka, Haryana, Jammu and most recently in Assam is in large part due to the en-masse transfer of a regional party’s support base. The prospect of this option looks bleak in Kerala and thus the BJP needs to prepare for another round of struggle in the state. The party’s vote share is still a few percentage points below the threshold point beyond which it could start making substantial gains in terms of seats.

Links to all articles below:

On the BJP’s emergence in Kerala by Rahul Verma, Pranav Gupta, and Nitin Mehta

On why the LDF win was unlike previous elections by Sandeep Shastri and KM Sajad Ibrahim

On the nuanced perspective of leftist voters by Hilal Ahmed

Analysis of CSDS West Bengal post-poll in Indian Express

Today’s Indian Express has the Lokniti-CSDS analysis of the post-poll conducted in West Bengal. The headline article co-authored by myself and Professor Jyoti Prasad Chatterjee of Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College examines what went wrong with the Left-Congress alliance. Here’s the key takeaway:

The Assembly elections tested whether a ‘jote’, or alliance, between the Left Front, led by the CPI(M), and the Congress could successfully uproot the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal. That experiment clearly failed. The Lokniti-CSDS post-poll analysis reveals that in contrast to the ‘mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar or the BJP-AGP-BPF combine in Assam, the chemistry of a Left-Congress alliance was not conducive to electoral victory in West Bengal. Insofar as the alliance did succeed, it worked more to Congress’s benefit than the Left’s.

…The fundamental weakness of the Left-Congress ‘jote’ was simple: voters vote differently in state elections than national elections because issues of state governance are different from issues of national governance. The 2014 elections were defined by a debate about development and change at the national level. By contrast, these elections were largely a referendum on the performance of Mamata Banerjee’s TMC government. Fifty-seven per cent of voters were satisfied with the performance of the TMC government, while only 33 per cent were dissatisfied. Among this dissatisfied third, the Left-Congress ‘jote’ won only 65 per cent of votes, indicating that many anti-TMC voters did not think it presented a credible alternative to the TMC.

While the Left’s votes largely transferred to Congress, Congress’s votes did not transfer as consistently to the Left. Among those who voted for the Left Front in 2014, 88 per cent voted for the ‘jote’ while only 9 per cent voted for TMC in 2016. But among those who voted for Congress in 2014, 73 per cent voted for the ‘jote’ and 24 per cent voted for TMC. This lopsided transfer of votes helped Congress win more seats than the Left Front and emerge as the next leader of the opposition.

Links to all articles below:

On what went wrong with the Left-Congress alliance by Sam Solomon and Jyoti Prasad Chatterjee

On the popularity of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by Jyoti Mishra and Aasmita Aasaavari

On the loss of the Left’s base to the TMC by Shreyas Sardesai and Suprio Basu

On the relative insignificance of corruption as a political issue by Vibha Attri and Souradeep Banerjee

On the BJP’s disappointing returns by Pranav Gupta, Shashwat Dhar, and Nitin Mehta

Analysis of CSDS Assam post-poll in Indian Express

Today’s Indian Express has the Lokniti-CSDS analysis of the post-poll conducted in Assam. The headline article by Sanjay Kumar, Suhas Palshikar, and Sandeep Shastri reviews the meaning of all four election results for national politics. Here’s the key takeaway:

…these election outcomes yet again underscore the importance of state-level political configurations. Not just the fact that in almost each of these four states, state level players made all the difference, but also the nature of competition, its impact on various players, filtering of the national appeals and images, and the social bases that allowed victories and produces losses, are all state-specific. This is what the BJP ignored in case of Bihar and made amends this time around. As we move away from the Modi magic of 2014, this crucial reality would be a major factor in shaping the electoral arena. More importantly, this means that challenge to the BJP can arise mainly from state-based parties — something that ties up with the inevitability of coalitions.

…in spite of its limited success in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, this round of Assembly elections further underscores the rise of BJP as the only truly all-India party. Already in 2014, it had nearly achieved that status, but a robust performance in East and South further strengthens this feature. It took a long time for any party to finally emerge as an all-India party in the wake of the decline of Congress that began in 1989.

…this outcome will be remembered for probably the last leg in the downhill journey of the Congress party. In 2014, it was felt that that was the lowest that the party can stumble. But past two years have shown the depths of its downfall. Both in Assam and in Kerala, it is not extra-ordinary that it lost; but the scale of loss and, more than that, the style in which it lost — bickering, aimless and isolated — makes this outcome another important milestone in the irresistible decline of the Congress party.

Links to all articles on Assam below:

On the unprecedented level of Hindu consolidation for the BJP by Shreyas Sardesai and Dhruba Pratim Sharma

On the BJP’s alliances with regional parties by Sam Solomon

On the BJP’s success among Scheduled Tribe voters by Shreyas Sardesai

On Congress’ decision to not align with the AIUDF by Sanjeer Alam

Fulbright conference presentation

Below is my presentation from the Fulbright conference in Jaipur on February 29. It is largely a modification of the presentation from the IPSA conference at University of Kalyani last year, with the addition of interviews conducted after then.

More elections are coming up in the next two months! Assam will hold state legislative election on April 4 and April 11, and West Bengal will have them on April 4, 11, 17, 21, 25, 30, and May 5. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry will all have elections on May 16, and the results for all elections will be announced on May 19. More details on these elections to come. At CSDS, we are preparing the sample and questionnaires for the Assam and West Bengal post-polls.

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