By: Nitin Mehta & Pranav Gupta
The post-poll survey by CSDS shows the significance of campaigning, as more than one-third (38 per cent) of the voters decided whom to vote for during the campaign or close to the polling day. The remaining 62 per cent had decided well before the campaign had begun, which would be early January. This could be attributed to the fact that Arvind Kejriwal had started his campaign roughly three to four months ago with a series of Delhi Dialogues.
Among the earliest decision-makers, the AAP enjoyed a lead of 22 percentage points over the BJP. The gap widens to almost 37 points among those who decided early during the campaign. This probably justifies the BJP’s hasty decision of playing the Bedi gamble. Again, one could argue probably that the BJP had to do something out-of-the-box to have a chance. The distress call by BJP in the last leg of campaigning by roping in the Prime Minister and his cabinet helped the party salvage some of its vote as the gap narrowed to some extent among those who decided close to voting (26 per cent). The intensive BJP campaign in the last 10 days seems to have been just enough for it to retain its core support group.
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Many in the BJP believe that adverse media coverage hampered its prospects. On the contrary, data from the survey indicates that the gap between the AAP and the BJP was relatively lower among those who watched news on television or read the newspaper daily. A similar trend is also seen among users and non users of Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
We examine the overall visibility of the three campaigns and find that the Congress was almost absent. Only one-fifth of the voters said a Congress candidate or a worker had come to their house as compared to more than 40 percent for both the BJP and the AAP. Half the voters had not or had hardly seen any poster or banner of the Congress party during this election. Despite similar visibility with the AAP, it seems the BJP campaign failed to appeal to voters, probably due to the high negative sentiment in their speeches and advertisements.
This election reinforces the lessons learnt in campaigning from the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time, the AAP ran a sustained campaign that peaked at the correct moment. It was immature of the BJP to expect that only highlighting the achievements of the highly popular central government (62 per cent satisfaction rating) was enough for them to sway the city’s voters at the last moment with a few rallies by Modi.
The authors are associated with Lokniti CSDS and coordinated the post-poll survey