Running to stand still

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) continues to advance in the opinion polls.  The NDTV-Hansa survey projects a majority for the alliance if elections were held in March:

The CNN-IBN-CSDS-The Week election tracker is more cautious in its forecast, but has also projected a 20-seat improvement in the NDA’s seats tally over the past two months:

This is a good time to revisit the argument I made two months ago in Why you should ignore opinion poll seat projections. I had written that “Indian public opinion polls are much better at predicting party vote shares than they are at extrapolating to seats won in parliament or state assemblies… because vote shares translate into seats in an unpredictable way under India’s multiparty “first-past-the-post” electoral system.

So what does the latest vote share data tell us?

The NDTV-Hansa poll shows that the NDA has increased its vote share by 4.4 percentage points between February and April 2014, while the Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has slipped 1.2 percentage points:

The CNN-IBN-CSDS-The Week poll projects that the NDA vote share has risen one percentage point and the UPA vote share has fallen by a similar amount:

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 10.54.42 pm

If we assume a margin of error of 3%, this signifies no real change in the two alliances’ relative positions. In other words, the NDA’s advantage over the UPA has neither grown nor diminished in any concrete sense over the past two months.

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