Sunday, December 16, 2007

Psephology or Voodoo-logy --Should 'exit' polls make an exit?

Come any election and vodoologist Yogendra Yadav comes out of woodwork proferring all sorts of baseless theories, which he inevitably retracts after the actual results are out(Ok he belabors when reservation issue is in vogue, but there, his standing remains diminished). The famous one being his outlandish poll figures buttressing the cause of his fellow clansman, Mulayam Yadav in the recent UP elections. Maywati's victory trashed any iota of credibility that this unkempt psephologist ever had but our social-cum-psephology-science hero remains unruffled as ever. The entity called 'Lajja' has been AWOL from sociology/media circles for too long to expect Yogendra to be an exception to the norm.

In fact, he has so perfected the routine that his inordinate projections and the hindsight explanations almost follow a script- they all begin with confident assertions and end with incoherent, unapologetic jeremiads. The presence of any genuine humility remains inscrutable in most of these postmortems. But none of this post-facto analysis seeps through his steeply prejudiced polling methods and the sad routine repeats itself, almost in a clockwork.

Anyway, his co-amateurs (calling them professionals would be a misnomer) have come out with all sorts of poll numbers after Gujarat's second phase of polling was over yesterday. From the figures, which vary from 90 to 110 for the Modi, and equivalent for Congress, based on which min. or max you take, one wonders if they really are based on polling or on a populist reading(manufactured by media no less) that the election is too close to call. The poll ranges provided sometimes don't even add up, as you can check here.

Though one silver lining out of this cross-the-board mediocrity is that people don't take these figures seriously anymore, and are perhaps less influenced by them than they used to be. Of course, none of that has not stopped secularist media from trying to influence the elections through dubious, and very often fabricated, reporting. Coming back to the original question: I guess exit polls are a necessary evil and us common folks, looked down upon as a clueless "aam-aadmi," will have to learn to live with it. Till then voodoo-logy will keep churning out bloviating, predatory "psephologists."

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