Exit Polls

The election exit poll is a poll by voters shortly after leaving voting stations. Unlike an opinion poll, which asks who the electorate is planning to vote for, an exit poll asks who the elector was actually voting for. A similar poll is an entrance poll, which is before actual voters’ vote. Pollsters – usually private firms working for newspapers or broadcasters, perform exit polls to provide an early indication of how an election has turned out, as the actual outcome can take hours or even days to count in many elections.

Warren Mitofsky, the founder of Mitofsky International, invented the exit poll. The polls conducted by Indian companies and media organizations are Today’s Chanakya, ABP-Voter, India Today-Axis, Times Now-CNX, Republic-Jan Ki Baat and Chintamani, among others. Many of these companies conduct exit polling using the random sample process. They often opt to predict the actual outcome by systematic sampling. The organizations ask people who they voted for from different age groups, class, caste, religion, etc and on that basis, they make their prediction of the final outcome. The forecast is based solely on the fact the voters gave the right answers.

More About Exit Polls

Exit surveys gather demographic voting data and to figure out why they voted as they did. Since individual votes are cast anonymously, polling is the only way to gather information. Later a person interpolates both views on the basis of different formulas. It results in terms of seats gained, voting shares, past performance comparison, and other various inputs. The sample size is very low and results may not be correct but most of the time they hit the bullseye.

The main reason for the inaccuracy is the propensity to over-shoot the final outcome. Pollsters interview only a small sample set (a relatively small set of people) and use that sample set to estimate population (all voters) views. As any statistician would realize, there are always chances leading to errors when expanding from sample to population, since the sample itself may be biased. Sure, polls for views and exits are reliable, but only to a certain extent.

In short-Exit Polls

Inaccurate, but important, exit polls are indeed “popcorn entertainers,” used for higher ratings by media outlets. The polls can only be released or broadcast half an hour after the end of last polling process. They are published after approval by Election Commission of India with a belief to create a podium for everyone to stand on.

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