Six times exit pollsters ended up with egg on their faces

Will there be a twist in the tale? History suggests it could happen.

Published: 22nd May 2019 04:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th November 2020 12:37 PM   |  A+A-

Modi, Rahul, Stalin, Uddhav, Naidu, Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati

Representational image (File | PTI)

Online Desk

With almost all the exit polls predicting a sweep for the BJP-led NDA government, ruling party leaders are sporting a smug look, while the opposition has been quick to dismiss them as fake.

Will there be a twist in the tale? History suggests it could happen. Here are six instances when exit polls got it wrong.

2004 Lok Sabha elections 

The then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had dissolved Parliament early for a snap poll following the party's success in assembly elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Many exit polls had predicted that the BJP-led NDA government would win a second term with 240-250 seats. However, the Congress-led UPA sprang a surprise by winning 218 seats against the prediction of 170-205 seats while the NDA could muster just 187.

The UPA went on to form the government with the support of the Left Front, Samajwadi Party and BSP.


2014 Lok Sabha elections

In this election, which proved to be a gamechanger in Indian political history, the exit polls had indeed predicted an NDA victory. However, they indicated that the NDA would get a wafer-thin majority, with around 272 seats.

On the contrary, however, the NDA stormed to a thumping victory under the leadership of Narendra Modi with 336 seats. In fact, the BJP won a majority on its own -- the first time in 30 years that any party had achieved the feat. The Congress-led UPA, which was predicted to bag 115 seats, got a paltry 60.

2015 Delhi assembly elections

Two years after AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal resigned as Chief Minister over the failure to table the Jan Lokpal bill in the Assembly, Delhi went to the polls again. The elections came eight months after the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came into power at the Centre. 

While the exit polls predicted an AAP win, they suggested that the party would just cross the halfway mark in the 70-member assembly. However, the AAP swept the polls in one of the biggest routs in Indian electoral history, winning 67 seats. The BJP got just three while the Congress drew a blank.

2015 Bihar assembly elections

Back when Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi didn't see eye to the eye, a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ was formed between the JD(U), RJD and Congress to take on the Modi wave.

The exit polls predicted a tough fight resulting in a hung assembly. But the actual outcome saw the NDA getting only 58 seats in the 243-member assembly while the alliance bagged 178.

P.S: The NDA had the last laugh when Nitish dumped his allies and defected to their camp less than two years later.

2016 Tamil Nadu assembly elections

The 2016 assembly polls in the state would turn out to be the last electoral battle involving AIADMK and DMK supremos J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi. 

Most exit polls predicted that the DMK would return to power with 130-131 seats out of 234. They also predicted that the current CM Edappadi Palaniswami would lose his seat of Edappadi.

However, the actual results saw the 'Iron Lady' winning 134 seats while the leader of the 'Rising Sun' was able to snatch just 89. Needless to say, Palaniswami won his seat.

2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections

The 2017 assembly elections saw a Congress-SP alliance taking on the BJP in a bid to stem the Modi wave in the country’s most populous state.

Though exit polls had predicted the saffron party getting the most seats, they suggested that the party would fall short of a majority and hence it would be a hung assembly.

However, the actual results saw the BJP getting 312 seats out of the 403 with the Congress-SP alliance winning just 59.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp