The Delhi election is a dead heat

A simple average of the five most recent opinion polls shows that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are locked in a dead heat in the 2015 Delhi state election, with a projected 40% share of the vote each.

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There is considerable variation among the five polls in terms of the vote gap between the two parties.

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The chart above shows that the BJP is 4-5 percentage points ahead of the AAP in the India TV-Cvoter and India Today-Cicero polls, but 3-6 points behind in the other three polls.

How to judge? As the chart below shows, in 2013 ABP News-Nielsen and India TV-Cvoter came the closest to estimating the relative vote shares of the BJP and AAP (using the “Mosteller 5” method, explained here); CNN IBN-CSDS did even better but are not conducting a pre-election poll this year.

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And what do those two agencies together project in 2015? A vote gap in favour of the BJP of -4 and 5 percentage points, respectively, which more or less cancel each other out. Which is why even a weighted average (by past poll accuracy) of the five polls results in — you guessed right — a dead heat.

Is AAP India’s most criminal party?

With candidates declared for six of the nine rounds of voting in this never-ending general election, a partial analysis can now be done of how many stand accused of criminal activity and in what proportion parties are awarding tickets to such folks (data from National Election Watch, also see preliminary analysis here).

The chart below ranks parties by the proportion of candidates that have serious criminal charges against them:

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As before, parties from Bihar and Maharashtra have the highest percentage of Lok Sabha candidates that face serious criminal charges. In 2009, the Indian National Congress (INC) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were comparable; the BJP is doing a little worse so far in the 2014 election with 17% of its candidates facing serious charges compared with 13% of the INC’s.  The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is performing better this time round: it has fewer accused candidates than the BJP, INC or the Samajwadi Party (SP). The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), as might be expected, looks pretty good here.

What about levels of criminality? To calculate the intensity of the alleged criminality of each party’s candidates, we count the number of candidates with more than one serious charge, add up the number of charges and calculate the total as a percentage of the total candidates per party. And here is what we find:

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Shock and horror! AAP turns out, by far, to have the highest levels of alleged criminality of all of India’s parties. The Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party come a poor second and third respectively.

As it happens, AAP’s ranking is driven by two statistical outliers: Anti-nuclear activists SP Udayakumar and M Pushparayan respectively account for 382 and 380 of the 829 serious charges that AAP candidates face. The next such candidate is Trinamool’s Kameshwar Baitha with “only” 48 charges, suggesting that the numbers for Udayakumar and Pushparayan are unusual. After all, is Udayakumar really 48 times more “criminal” than Sri Ram Sene leader Pramod Mutalik who faces eight serious charges?

To limit the effect of such outliers, let’s give a score of 10 to all candidates who were had more than nine serious criminal charges. The result is:

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The AAP now drops in the rankings and ends up with about the same intensity of criminal charges as the Congress Party, although it still does worse than the BSP and Biju Janata Dal. The “criminality” of the BJP slate of candidates is more than double that of the INC and AAP, up from being 28% greater than the INC in 2009. The Congress score in 2014 is about the same as it was in 2009, but the BJP’s is sharply higher this time.

As before, the BSP does well in this ranking, although its score is not strictly comparable with the SP’s because the latter is focused much more on Uttar Pradesh and has only two-fifth as many candidates. Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporters can breathe a sigh of relief: it moves from the top of the list in 2009 to somewhere in the middle.

Finally the overall incidence of serious criminal charges is higher (so far) in 2014: 302 of the 533 candidates facing serious criminal charges (the 57th percentile) have more than one charge against them compared with 355 of 1,114 (the 32nd percentile) in 2009.

Remember however that this is still an incomplete list: we await candidate data for the final rounds of voting.

Rush to judgement

The Association of Democratic Reforms has analysed 280 of 469 Lok Sabha candidates announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) and discovered that:

The data do not seem to be up as yet on the ADR website, so here is quick breakdown by party using the numbers quoted in news reports:

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It would appear that the proportion of candidates with criminal cases in 2014 has gone up in comparison with 2009 — from a fourth to close to a third. The INC’s proportion stays constant at 27% but the BJP’s seems to have risen by 7 percentage points to 35%.

But don’t race to any conclusions until parties have declared all their candidates. We don’t know the basis on which the sample of 280 candidate affidavits was chosen, and that too from a partial list of 469 candidate declarations. The two biggest parties together had 833 candidates standing for election to the Lok Sabha last time.

Political parties’ Facebook activity

In response to my post on Political parties’ Facebook “likes”, Pragya Tiwari correctly pointed out that an additional flaw in that measure is the likelihood that parties and politicians purchase “likes”, and that people “talking about this” might be a less manipulable figure.

So here is some data (an evening’s snapshot on Mar 1):

Politicians here appear to attract more chatter than political parties, although we don’t know what people are saying. No doubt there are commercial tools available to figure that out, and I’d be interested in getting such data were it to be available.

Political parties’ Facebook “likes”

This measure of political party support has some obvious limitations (viz. self-selection and an upper-income/urban/education bias) but is still, I think, worth noting, especially the Aam Aadmi Party’s strong performance.