Pre-poll survey: three-fifths rate economic situation as ‘average’ or ‘bad’

But nearly half of those surveyed want Prime Minister Modi to return to power.

April 05, 2019 10:33 pm | Updated April 08, 2019 04:48 pm IST

The Lokniti survey reveals concerns over jobs and income, but also middling support for government. File

The Lokniti survey reveals concerns over jobs and income, but also middling support for government. File

Unemployment has been reported by respondents as a key economic concern in the CSDS-Lokniti-The Hindu-Tiranga TV-Dainik Bhaskar Pre-Poll Survey in 19 States between March 24 and 31, reflecting the indications of an economic slowdown and farm distress across the country.

On the assessment of the state of the economy, 33% of the respondents rated it as “so-so” and 25% rated it as “bad,” while 34% termed it “good” or “very good.” The 34% number is up from 26% in January 2018 and is also much higher than the 19% who described the economy to be in good shape in May 2014 before the Narendra Modi government came to power.

While two in every three of those who see the economy as being in a good situation were found to be in favour of giving the BJP government another term, this reduced to 46% among those who rated the economic situation “so-so.”

But only 36% among the latter did not favour the regime to return to power.

Opinion on country’s present economic condition – a greater proportion views it as being good than bad

The present economic situation of the country is…..Pre-poll 2019 (%)
Very good11
Very bad9
No response8

Question: Overall, how would you rate the economic situation of the country at the moment - is it very good, good, so-so, bad or very bad? N size= 10,010

Over half of the respondents reported that they found it difficult to make both ends meet with their total household income, but this number has reduced from two-thirds of the respondents in the Lokniti survey in May 2018.

In May last year, one-fourth of respondents had found their income to be insufficient to make ends meet; this proportion has now dropped to one-fifth

 Pre-poll 2019 (%)May 2018 (%)Jan 2018 (%)
Able to fulfill all our needs & also end up saving some money15913
Able to fulfill all our needs but don’t end up saving312434
Not able to fulfill all our needs and face some difficulty334039
Not able to fulfill our needs and face a lot of difficulty182714
No response3<1<1


‘Number of jobs down’

When the respondents were asked whether employment opportunities under the Modi government had increased or decreased during the last five years, close to half (46%) said they had gone down and one in every four (25%) were of the opinion that they had increased. In May 2014, one-third (33%) had reported a decrease in employment opportunities under the UPA and one-fifth (19%) had reported an increase.

NDA rated worse than UPA on the jobs front

Employment opportunities under BJP-NDA’s rule at the Centre have...Pre-poll 2019 (under NDA govt) (%)May 2014 (under UPA govt) (%)
Remained same2134
No response814


In net terms, the NDA fares worse than the UPA on the jobs front. Job-related anxiety was found to be greatest among the young and college educated voters. Whereas 47% of the respondents reported finding a job in their area to be more difficult during the last 3-4 years, among the young voters aged between 18-35 years it was found to be three points higher at 50% and among the college educated voters, a further three percentage points higher, at 53%.

Youth and college-educated respondents more likely to report job related anxiety

 More difficult to find a job in my area (%)Less difficult (%)Remained same (%)
Age groups   
Youth (18-35 years)502021
Others (above 35)442021
Level of education   
Upto primary421924
Upto matric472321
College and above532419

Note: Rest didn’t respond to this question.

The survey finds that the issue of farmers’ distress, although very real, might not be much of an electoral issue as it does not seem to affecting the government’s popularity among the farming community. Even as a slightly higher proportion of farmers were found to be blaming the Central government and not their State government for their plight, this has not resulted in any strong anti-Modi government sentiment among them - two-fifths of such farmers still want the regime to return to power.

However a sizeable proportion of farmers who blame the Modi government for their plight also want it to return

 Government should get another chance (%)Government should not get another chance (%)
Farmers who blame Central government for their problems4147
Farmers who blame State government for their problems6128
Farmers who blame Both governments for their problems4740


The pro-government sentiment among farmers was found to be strongest in North and East India and weakest in South India. This is in fact very similar to how non-farmer respondents across these regions also responded to the incumbency question. Moreover, when asked what would be the most important issue for them while voting, only about 6% reported specific farming-related issues as their most important problem. The rest of the farmers stated voting issues similar to the ones stated by non-farmers.



Farmers in Maharashtra were most likely to report farming related problems as the most important voting issue (20%) followed by Haryana (16%).

How people from different strata perceive ‘Modi’s development model’ – religious minorities are most critical of it; of all regions South is most likely to feel Modi’s development has been for the rich

 development for all (%)only for the Rich (%)no development at all (%)
Social groups   
Hindu upper caste551914
Upper OBC492718
Lower OBC492212
Economic class   
Lower class452717
Middle class443017
Upper class462619

Note: The rest of the respondents did not answer the question

It must also be stressed here that we are not sure about which way the causality runs — are people actually deciding their political preferences about giving/ not giving the ruling party/coalition a second chance on the basis of their perception of the economy or is the perception of the economy being determined by their political preferences and their likes or dislikes regarding the regime?

Our survey found a sharp divide between BJP supporters and the rest on this question. While over half the BJP supporters were found to be viewing the economy in a positive light, among Congress and Congress allies’ supporters only one-fifth held such a view. Supporters of opposition parties were more likely to view the economy as being in average or bad shape.


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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