It is time to roll out the surveys and polls and much reading between the lines. The first important poll is out, the CNN-IBN-Hindu survey (Thanks to SambarMafia for the link).
The main results of the poll are:
A CNN-IBN-Hindu pre-poll survey predicts that it is going to be a very close race between the alliances of the two Dravidian outfits in the 234-member strong Tamil Nadu Assembly.
According to the survey, the AIADMK will get a 46 per cent share of the votes and the DMK 44 per cent. Actor-politician Vijaykanth’s party, the DMDK, is projected to get 5 per cent of the votes.
As many as 67 per cent respondents felt satisfied with the government. Only 24 per cent felt dissatisfied.
42 per cent respondents would like Jayalalitha to be the next chief minister. As many as 39 per cent respondents favoured M Karunanidhi for the post. Vijaykanth came a distant third in the preference list.
Vijaykanth, whose party will be the third largest force in the elections, could be the dark horse. He has managed to dent the vote base of almost all parties. According to the survey, 49 per cent of his support comes from the DMK base and 25 from AIADMK base.
Coverage in The Hindu as well.
My take on this survey:
These results are not too surprising. I would have expected ADMK to be marginally ahead in the polls. There are no major trends or swings sweeping the elections, so the parties would hold on to their bases and grab a bit of the undecided votes. People preferring Jayalalitha to Karunanidhi for Chief Minister is not surprising as well, given Karunanidhi's age and the uncertainity of how long can he rule and what will happen after his time.
One point where I disagree with IBN/Hindu is on their conclusions based on the percentage of votes. Hindu opines:
The current indications are that it will be the closest election ever fought in Tamil Nadu. It is also likely that the Opposition benches will have respectable numbers for the first time in the Assembly. If voting intentions revealed before the nomination of candidates hold until polling day, no single party will have a majority.
I think this is reading too much into the %age of votes. The reason is that the percentage of votes DO NOT translate into percentage of seats.
Even when the polls have been totally one-sided, the opposition parties have managed to win a decent percentage of votes. If I remember right, when Jayalalitha routed Karunanidhi the first time, DMK still got more than 30% of the votes or something like that. So, even if the two parties get 46% and 44% of the seats, it might happen that ADMK will still get a simple majority of seats.
The main reason for this is that our elections do not need a winner to win a majority of votes, and we do not have a runoff election to decide. We also don't have a way for voters to decide who is their second choice, third choice and so on. So, the parties may be in dead heat when it comes to votes got, but I still think one party (I am guessing ADMK, for now) will end up with a majority.
The next interesting point about these results is that 67% of voters are satisfied with the work of the current government. Tamilnadu polls usually have a huge anti-incumbency factor (which was missing only during the MGR reign). It looks like Jayalalitha's government has managed to overcome that big disadvantage. Surely, the various sops given in the past year would have helped.
Vijaykanth must be happy about these results. His party is getting 5% of the votes, which is pretty big for a party contesting for the first time, riding solely on the popularity of a single leader. If his 5% voteshare is not evenly distributed, but is concentrated in a few key constituencies, he will be a big factor in deciding who will win in those constituencies. I doubt that his party would actually win seats in the election, but getting 5% votes and becoming a registered party will get DMDK a lot more bargaining power the next time around.
The survey doesn't show Stalin in good light. 5% of people preferred Vijaykanth for the Chief Minister post, but only 1% preferred Stalin. Again, goes to show that Stalin has absolutely no charisma and popularity by himself. 39% preferred Mu.Ka for CM, so some of that will transfer to Stalin. But, DMK will take a major step backward if Stalin is at its helm.