Pre-poll survey: State-wise popularity trends point to a close election

Satisfaction levels with the Modi regime, though, have improved in the last year

April 06, 2019 11:07 pm | Updated April 08, 2019 04:47 pm IST

59% of the respondents reported being satisfied with the Central government’s performance

59% of the respondents reported being satisfied with the Central government’s performance

A total of 59% of the respondents in the CSDS-Lokniti-The Hindu-Tiranga TV-Dainik Bhaskar Pre-Poll Survey reported being satisfied with the Central government’s performance, with 35% registering dissatisfaction. This 24 percentage point net satisfaction with the government marked a definite increase from its popularity numbers last year when the net satisfaction had dropped to zero (46% satisfied, 47% dissatisfied).

After having dipped in 2018, satisfaction with the NDA government is now almost back to post-demonetization high

 Pre-poll 2019 (%)May 2018 (%)January 2018 (%)May 2017 (%
Satisfied with NDA government59475164
Dissatisfied with NDA government35474027
No response6699


Complete dissatisfaction with the government is lower than complete satisfaction; a year ago this was not the case

 Pre-poll 2019 (%)May 2018 (%)
Fully satisfied with NDA government2416
Somewhat satisfied with NDA government3531
Somewhat dissatisfied with NDA government1515
Fully dissatisfied with NDA government2032
No response66


Question asked: Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the performance of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre over the last five years? (Probe further whether fully or somewhat satisfied or dissatisfied).

But when it came to the question of giving the government a second chance, the numbers were much closer — 46% for doing so, and 36% against. A comparison with the 2009 election is merited here — in May 2009, net satisfaction with the Manmohan Singh-led government was as high as 43 points (64% were satisfied and 21% dissatisfied). With that satisfaction rating, the Congress and its allies managed to win 262 seats, falling 10 short of majority. This suggests that the 2019 election will not be a cakewalk for the NDA government.

Anti-incumbency sentiment has weakened in last one year

 Pre-poll 2019 (%)MOTN May 2018 (%)
Modi govt. should get another chance4639
Modi government should not get another chance3647
No response1814

Question asked: Should the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre get another chance after the coming Lok Sabha election?

Satisfaction with NDA government much higher than what it was with UPA-2 in 2014 but it is lower than satisfaction with UPA-1

 NDA 2019 (%)UPA-II 2014 (%)UPA-1 2009 (%)
Satisfied with government594664
Dissatisfied with government354421
No response61015


Two-fifths see the NDA government as being better than the previous UPA government

 NDA 2019 (%)
NDA government is better38
UPA government was better27
Both were equally good11
Neither was good11
No response13

Question asked: If we compare the present BJP-led NDA government at the Centre with the earlier Congress-led UPA government, which one of the two has been better in your opinion?

Satisfaction notwithstanding, voters are not happy with specific details of the government’s performance. The assessment of the government on corruption, price rise and employment opportunities is not very positive. It would, therefore, be interesting to see if voters rely more on their general sense of satisfaction or on a more nuanced sense on performance in key areas.

Voters’ assessment of Modi government’s performance on different parameters

 Increased (%)Decreased (%)Remained same (%)No response (%)
Gap between Rich and Poor4331188
India’s image in the world48201814
Employment opportunities2546218
Prices of essential commodities6119146
Welfare programmes for the poor31322512
Harmony between communities23312818


Question asked: Now I will ask you about some important issues. Please tell me about each whether these have increased or decreased during the last 5 years of BJP-NDA’s rule at the Centre?

Moreover, the question is — will the NDA be able to reap electoral dividends across the country from the fairly high overall satisfaction with its performance. It may help to look at the States to answer this question. We find that the 59% satisfaction with the NDA recorded by the survey is not evenly spread across the 19 surveyed States with some States reporting very high satisfaction levels and some abysmally low.

Barring Karnataka, all the southern States recorded a negative net satisfaction with the Central government’s performance. In Andhra Pradesh it is -5, in Telangana, -7, and in Tamil Nadu and Kerala -39. Moreover, in two of these states – Telangana and Kerala - voters were found to be far more satisfied with the state government’s performance than the central government’s performance in net terms.

In fact we notice this pattern/trend in 10 of the 19 States where the survey was conducted. In Punjab for instance, the net satisfaction with the Modi government was -29 whereas net satisfaction with the Congress-led state government was found to be +17. In Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, which elected Congress governments just recently, we notice a similar pattern.

Even as the Modi government is highly popular in the two states, the State governments seem to be even more popular. Net satisfaction with the BJD government in Odisha and the Trinamool government in West Bengal was also found to be far higher than the net satisfaction with the Modi government’s performance in these States. This is a national election no doubt, but the higher popularity of State governments vis-à-vis the Central government is not going to make matters easy for the BJP. The survey also found that voters in Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are also likely to give preference to the performance of their State government while casting their vote in the Lok Sabha election than the performance of the Central government. In many other States, even as voters are more likely to give importance to the Central government’s work, there is a high proportion that will take a final decision after taking both the governments’ work into account.

In 10 of 19 States where survey was conducted, net satisfaction with the State government is greater than satisfaction with Central government

 Net Satisfaction with NDA government (% points)Net Satisfaction with State government (% points)
Andhra Pradesh-5-11
Madhya Pradesh2645
Tamil Nadu-39-41
Uttar Pradesh3322
West Bengal1422

Net satisfaction is proportion of those satisfied minus proportion of those dissatisfied

Local vs national

The BJP faces another problem. Even as the survey found that in all the currently NDA governed states, voters are satisfied with both the state and the central governments’ performance, there are some States where they do not seem to be much satisfied with the performance of their sitting BJP MPs. Among the sampled constituencies in Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh we found satisfaction levels with BJP Mps registering just borderline positive numbers. Yet among almost all NDA-governed states, the voters are more likely to vote on the basis of the party and the PM candidate, rather than their local candidate. Only Maharashtra stands out where the local candidate matters as much as the party for the voter.

In most States, voters will vote looking at Central government’s performance while voting than the State government’s performance

 Performance of Central government will matter more while voting (%)Performance of State government will matter more while voting (%)Both (%)
Andhra Pradesh123540
Madhya Pradesh281937
Tamil Nadu252233
Uttar Pradesh341237
West Bengal382017

The rest said neither or gave no response

Another striking finding comes from Chhattisgarh where in the 3 sampled constituencies we found high satisfaction levels with the sitting MPs which is higher than the satisfaction with the NDA government. Could the BJP have therefore erred in dropping all its sitting MPs?

Net satisfaction with BJP MPs was found to be extremely low in Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and UP; very high in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka

Whose performance will be considered while voting in the Lok Sabha electionPre-poll 2019 (%)March 2014 (%)
Madhya Pradesh268
Uttar Pradesh335

Net satisfaction is proportion of satisfaction minus proportion of those dissatisfied

While the BJP would want the election to be fought on Prime Minister Modi’s image, that strategy may have to encounter entrenched State-level factors.



Satisfaction with Modi government continues to be highest in cities and lowest in small towns; in cities two thirds are satisfied now as opposed to half a year ago

 Pre-poll 2019 (%)MOTN May 2018 (%)


Young voters are slightly more satisfied with the government than the elderly

Age groupSatisfied (%)Dissatisfied (%)
18-25 years6035


In 2014, over half the voters had wanted the government out, now nearly half want the NDA to be back

 2019 NDA govt. (%)2014 UPA govt. (%)
Govt. should get another chance4625
Govt. should not get another chance3653
No response1822


Question asked: Should the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre get another chance after the coming Lok Sabha election?


For half the respondents Acche Din seem to have arrived again

 Pre-poll 2019 (%)May 2018 (%)January 2018 (%)May 2017 (%)
Modi has succeeded in bringing Achhe Din51424163
Modi has failed in bringing Achhe Din39525027
No response106910


Question asked: During the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, Narendra Modi had promised to bring ‘acchhe din’. After ___ years of Modi’s government, do you think Modi has succeeded or failed in bringing ‘acchhe din’?

People slightly more likely to consider Centre’s performance this time compared to 2014

Whose performance will be considered while voting in the Lok Sabha electionPre-poll 2019 (%)March 2014 (%
State government1726
Central government2824
No response1218


Satisfaction with BJP MPs is the same as satisfaction with the Modi government

Satisfaction with BJP MPs*60
Dissatisfaction with BJP MPs*36
Satisfaction with Modi government59
Dissatisfaction with Modi government35

*in surveyed seats

Dissatisfaction with performance of sitting MPs of Congress’ allies and BJP’s allies the greatest; dissatisfaction with BJP MPs higher than dissatisfaction with Cong MPs


 Fully satisfied (%)Somewhat satisfied (%)Somewhat dissatisfied (%)Fully dissatisfied (%)No response (%
Congress MPs34401376
Congress allies MPs123924241
BJP MPs283219175
BJP allies MPs253013284
BSP+ MPs40371661
Left MPs30511019


Net satisfaction with BJP MPs was found to be extremely low in Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and UP; very high in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka

Whose performance will be considered while voting in the Lok Sabha electionPre-poll 2019 (%)March 2014 (%)
Madhya Pradesh268
Uttar Pradesh335

Net satisfaction is proportion of satisfaction minus proportion of those dissatisfied

Note of caution here: Net satisfaction of BJP MPs is only for those seats that fell in our sample – in Chhattisgarh there were 3 such seats, in Karnataka 3, Maharashtra 6, Madhya Pradesh 4, Delhi 3, Bihar 4 and Uttar Pradesh 13.


Lokniti-CSDS National Election Study Pre Poll 2019


As part of its National Election Study, Lokniti, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, conducted a Pre-Poll Survey between March 24th and March 31st, 2019 among 10,010 respondents spread across 19 States of India - Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. The survey was conducted in 101 Assembly Constituencies (ACs) spread across 101 Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs). The total sample size targeted was 10,100 with an AC/PC-wise target of 100 interviews. In order to decide the number of PCs to be sampled in each of the 19 States, we first gave special weightage to the small States with 14 seats or less in order to achieve a decent sample of 300 from these States. Thereafter, the number of PCs to be sampled in the remaining medium and large States was determined based on the proportion of their electorate in the total electorate of the remaining States. The resultant target sample of each State was then adjusted to the nearest 100.

The sampling design adopted was multi-stage random sampling. This procedure ensures that the selected sample is fully representative of the cross-section of voters in the country. The PCs where the survey was conducted were randomly selected using the probability proportional to size method (adjusting the probability of choosing a particular constituency according to the size of its electorate). Then, one AC was selected from within each sampled PC using the PPS method again. Thereafter, four polling stations were selected from within each of the sampled ACs using the systematic random sampling method. Finally, 38 respondents were randomly selected using the systematic method from the electoral rolls of the sampled polling stations. Of these 38, we set a target of 25 interviews per polling station.

Once we identified our sample among the electorate, trained field investigators or FIs (a training workshop for them was conducted in each State) were sent to meet them. They were asked to interview only those whose names had been sampled. However, at some locations the non-availability of sampled respondents or difficulty in finding households necessitated replacements/substitutions. Our investigators sat down in the homes of people and asked them a detailed set of questions which could take up to 30 minutes. The questionnaire we presented to our sample of voters was designed in the language mainly spoken in the respondents’ State. In Gujarat in Gujarati, in Kerala in Malayalam, etc. Each PC/AC was covered by a team of two FIs, except Tamil Nadu where a team of four FIs was sent to each AC due to late start of fieldwork. A total 216 field investigators conducted the survey at 404 locations.

The achieved national sample is broadly representative of India’s population, in terms of the country's general demographic profile. Data of each State has been weighted by gender, locality, caste group and religion as per Census 2011 percentages.

Profile of the achieved national sample


Raw share in the achieved survey sample (%)


Actual share in total population of 19 States as per Census 2011 (%)


Actual share in India’s total population as per Census 2011 (%)



















































Note: Figures have been round off.

The survey was coordinated by scholars from the Lokniti Network: E Venkatesu and Srinivas Rao Gangiredla (Andhra Pradesh), Dhruba Pratim Sharma and Nurul Hassan (Assam), Rakesh Ranjan (Bihar), Lakhan Choudhary (Chhattisgarh), Biswajit Mohanty and (Delhi), Bhanu Parmar (Gujarat), Kushal Pal and Anita Agarwal (Haryana), Harishwar Dayal and Amit Kumar (Jharkhand), Veenadevi and K L Nagesh (Karnataka), Sajad Ibrahim and Rincy Mathew (Kerala), Yatindra Singh Sisodia and Ashish Bhatt (Madhya Pradesh), Nitin Birmal (Maharashtra), Gyanaranjan Swain and Balaram Pradhan (Odisha), Ashutosh Kumar and Hardeep Kaur (Punjab), Sanjay Lodha and Nidhi Seth (Rajasthan), P Ramajayam (Tamil Nadu), Vageeshan Harathi and Ramya C. (Telangana), Mirza Asmer Beg, Shashikant Pandey and Sudhir Khare (Uttar Pradesh), and Suprio Basu and Jyotiprasad Chatterjee (West Bengal).

The survey was designed and analysed by a team of researchers at Lokniti, CSDS. The team included Amrit Negi, Amrit Pandey, Anurag Jain, Dhananjay Kumar Singh, Himanshu Bhattacharya, Jyoti Mishra, Manjesh Rana, Sakshi Khemani, Shreyas Sardesai and Vibha Attri. The survey was directed by Prof. Sanjay Kumar, Prof. Suhas Palshikar and Prof. Sandeep Shastri of Lokniti..

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