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BJP vs Congress: What the Karnataka data says

By Abhishek Waghmare
May 14, 2018 14:17 IST
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What does election data say about the electoral support the competing parties in Karnataka have? Abhishek Waghmare find out.


Opinion polls in Karnataka are looking fuzzy as of now, and like Gujarat, only the day of the result will tell us which way the pendulum swings.

Campaigns, money, charisma, emotive issues and polarisation were undoubtedly the factors at work, but what does election data say about the electoral support competing parties in Karnataka have?


In the 2013 assembly election, former Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister B S Yeddyurappa split from the parent party to form Karnataka Janata Party.

In 2013, the BJP won 40 seats (or 18% of the seats) with 20% of popular vote.

The fallout faction KJP won six seats of the contested 204, but ate up 10% of the popular vote, almost half of what the parent BJP won.

In the 198 seats it lost, the KJP won an average of 13,742 votes per seat.

While the Congress had to secure 40.8% (1999) and 36.6% (2013) votes across the southern state to ascend to power, the BJP won 28.3% vote in 2004 and 33.9% vote in 2008.

Though not an established inference, it suggests that the Congress has to earn a bigger vote share than the BJP to rule the state, while the BJP can achieve the same with lesser -- but smartly orchestrated -- popularity.

There are some peculiar trends among electoral votes secured by the three major contesting parties, including the Janata Dal-Secular.

In the 2008 assembly election, the BJP secured about 40,000 on average in a seat it contested.

In the seats it won, the average vote was 52,000 while in those it lost, the average vote was 28,000.

For the Congress, the average vote in the seats it lost was 36,500.

Similarly in 2013, average vote to the Congress in the seats it lost to other parties was 38,500, while the same for the BJP was 22,000.

The Congress secured more than 70,000 votes per won seat on average.

In any state, the size of every assembly constituency -- geographical and electoral -- is different, and average vote share across such varied constituencies might not be fully comparable.

However, the stark difference between the two national parties in votes secured in lost seats points to the fact that the Congress has a widespread support base, while the BJP has to channelise its energies in select constituencies.

Data demonstrates the regional big-wig JD-S is popular in its support-base regions, with the average vote in a winning seat more than that of the BJP in the last two elections.

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Abhishek Waghmare
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