The survey findings in the articles to be presented in this series over the next few days are based on the National Election Study 2014 (NES 2014), a post-poll survey conducted by a team of scholars from all over India and coordinated by Lokniti, Programme for Comparative Democracy at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. NES 2014 is a large and comprehensive social scientific study of India’s national elections and continues the series begun in 1967 by CSDS (with a break between 1971 and 1996). It must be noted that the post poll survey conducted by CSDS is very different from an exit poll in which voters are approached outside the polling booth on voting day. Instead, voters randomly selected from the electoral rolls were approached by the field investigators for an interview at their place of residence after votes had been cast in their respective constituencies, but before the results were known. The purpose of the post poll survey was not just to try to understand voting behaviour, but more importantly to understand the reasons why voters chose the parties and candidates they did.Sampling
For this survey, we selected samples from 26 States (the survey was not conducted in Goa, Nagaland and Sikkim). First we chose 306 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies. Within the parliamentary constituencies, 347 assembly segments were selected, and then 1,388 individual polling station areas were selected for conducting interviews. Selection at each of these stages was by a random procedure. The constituencies were selected using the Probability Proportional to Size Method (adjusting the probability of choosing a particular constituency according to the size of its electorate). Four polling stations within each of the sampled assembly constituencies were selected using the Systematic Random Sampling (SRS) technique. The respondents were also selected using the SRS method from the most updated electoral rolls. From each rural polling station, 25 persons were selected from the electoral rolls and from each urban polling station, 30 persons were drawn. Around 37,000 voters randomly selected from the most updated electoral rolls were approached for the interview, of which 22,295 voters could be successfully interviewed (see our website for details: www.lokniti.org).
Once we identified our sample of the electorate, trained investigators were sent to meet them. They were asked to interview only those whose names were given to them. Our investigators sat down in the homes of those people whose names were selected from the electoral roll, and asked them a detailed set of questions, which could take up to 30-35 minutes. While asking the question on who they voted for, we gave them a dummy ballot paper on which they could mark their choice. They were then asked to place the ballot paper in a dummy ballot box. The process was designed to ensure that the people interviewed knew they would remain anonymous. This enabled us to collect detailed information about the respondents’ work and background, and allowed us to place voting decisions and political opinions within the context of broader social and economic factors.
The questionnaire we presented to our sample of voters was carefully designed and was in the language mainly spoken in the respondents’ State. The translation process was carefully monitored, so that a question in one State did not have a different meaning in another.
Our aim was to provide a sample of the electorate across the States of India which was as representative of the whole of the Indian electorate as was practicably possible. In order to minimize the risk of sampling error, we interviewed a very large number of people: 22,295. We are confident that we used the best possible methodology to achieve this task. The sample was broadly representative of the Indian population, in terms of the country’s general demographic profile (see Table).Weighting
When grouping all the States together for our all-India analysis, we adjusted the figures using a statistical technique known as weighting, which means that each State was proportionately represented in the analysis. This means that we were able to produce an accurate assessment of regional and State-level situations, as well as have a balanced and authoritative overview at the national level.
The survey was designed and analysed by a team of researchers at CSDS. The team included Anuradha Singh, Ashish Ranjan, Avantika Chamoli, Dhananjay Kumar Singh, Dishil Shrimankar, Himanshu Bhattacharya, K.A.Q.A Hilal, Kanchan Malhotra, Jyoti Mishra, Nitin Mehta, Rahul Verma, Shreyas Sardesai and Vibha Attri. Suhas Palshikar and Sandeep Shastri provided their suggestions during the entire exercise. The survey was directed at the national level by Sanjay Kumar. The fieldwork was coordinated by scholars from the Lokniti Network.