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Delhi polls: What's changed for Kejriwal

Six reasons AAP may be on its way to winning Delhi.

 |  Bite Soldier  |  6-minute read |   05-02-2015
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Most major opinion polls predict that the Aam Aadmi Party will be in a comfortable position to form the next government in Delhi after votes have been counted on February 10. So what's changed so dramatically over the past three weeks? How has the BJP gone from being in a comfortable position to form the next government to conceding an eight point vote gap to Kejriwal's party. Here are six factors from the final India Today Cicero opinion poll that could be swinging the Delhi polls in favour of Kejriwal.

1. Youth flocking to Kejriwal

The young voter was one of candidate Modi's biggest supporters during the Lok Sabha elections. In opinion polls done on the Delhi election till January 2015, the BJP was ahead of the AAP among the 18-25-year-old voters. But in the latest opinion poll, a massive 51 per cent of the young voters said that they would vote for the AAP. This is a sharp 11 per cent increase over the last India Today Cicero tracker done in January 2015. The BJP's popularity among the young voter in the same period slipped from 39 per cent to 34 per cent.

And it's not just the young, AAP now enjoys at a seven point gap over BJP among middle-aged group. The only age-group where AAP and BJP are in a dead heat is among voters who are 56 years and above.

Vote by Age Group

Age Group   INC     BJP     AAP     Others  
  Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015
Up to 25 years 16 15 11 39 39 34 38 39 51 7 7 4
26 to 35 years 15 15 12 38 39 37 39 39 47 8 7 4
36 to 45 years 16 16 13 35 40 37 39 36 34 10 8 7
46 to 55 years 16 17 15 40 41 35 35 34 42 9 8 8
56 years & Above 18 19 17 41 41 38 32 40 39 9 10 6

2. Muslims dumping Congress, rooting for AAP

The minority community in Delhi has traditionally been an unshakable vote bank for the Congress party. In the last Assembly election, the Congress did well in the Muslim-dominated seats. The minority voter was disillusioned with the Grand Old Party but he did not know if the AAP had a fighting chance. This time though, voters from the Muslim community realise that the Congress has been edged out of the race and are flocking to brace the broom. Almost half the Muslim respondents (49 per cent) in the Cicero opinion poll said that they would vote for the AAP. This is a big jump of 13 per cent over the tracker poll done in December 2014. During this same period, the Congress' support among the minorities plummeted from 38 per cent in December 2014 to 27 per cent in February 2015. The BJP continues to be restricted to a very small share of the minority vote. 

Vote by Caste/Community

Caste/Community   INC     BJP     AAP     Others  
  Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015
Brahmin 14 12 9 46 49 40 32 31 42 8 8 9
Rajput 11 12 10 46  48  41  36  34  41 
Bania-Jain 11 12 8 45  48  45  36  33  42 
Punjabi Khatri 6 9 14 44  41  35 43  40  39  10  13 
Other Upper Caste 13 12 10 46  45 45  33  37  42 
Jat 13 12 9 40  43  38  34  34  49  13  11 
Gujjar 10 14 11 35  44  36  46  39  47 
Other OBC 15 16 12 41  43 38  37  37  44  7
Dalits 13 13 14 33  34  30  37  38  48  17  15 
Sikhs 13 13 14 53  47 44  32  34  34 
Muslims 38 40 27 22  19  16  36  37  37 

3. AAP makes inroads in outer Delhi

While the BJP maintains a relatively strong grip among upper caste Hindu voters like the Brahmins, Rajputs and Banias, in this election Jats and the Gujjars seem to beveering towards the AAP. In the last elections, they had voted heavily for the BJP. These communities are concentrated in outer Delhi. In 2013, the AAP had done very poorly in these areas. This time though Kejriwal has brought in reinforcements by poaching candidates from other parties and has also managed to build a strong party structure in outer Delhi. This effort seems to be paying dividends for the AAP.

As you move down the caste pyramid, the AAP's gap over the BJP grows. Amongst the Dalit community, the AAP now enjoys a significant 18 per cent gap over the BJP.

4. Jhadoo rules the jhuggis

Till the 2013 Assembly polls, the Congress ruled in the jhuggi-jhopri clusters of Delhi. These heavily populated clusters are now the biggest vote bank for Kejirwal. Compared across metrics, the Aam Aadmi Party scores its highest vote share (53 per cent) among the basti voter. In comparison the BJP got only 27 per cent of the jhuggi vote in the Cicero survey, which is almost half that of the AAP.

It is only in the elite localities of Delhi that the BJP has a clear lead over the Aam Aadmi Party. Apart from the jhuggis, even in the lower income localities, the AAP seems to have been able to build a healthy 9 per cent gap over the BJP. This is a big blow to the BJP, since PM Modi comes from a humble background himself and a large part of the capital's poor population had voted for the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

Vote by Type of Locality

Type of Locality   INC     BJP     AAP     Others  
  Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015
Rural Delhi 16 17 10 34 40 35 33 37 44 17 6 38
Jhuggi-Jhopri Clusters 18  18  11  34  33  27  39  40  53  10 
Lower Class Localities 20  18  17  34 37  34  36  36  45  10 
Middle Class Localities 13  12  12  46 47  36  31  32  39  10  12 
Elite Localities 11  13  13  45  44  43 39  36  39 

5. Bedi's not pulling women voters 

When the decision to bring in Kiran Bedi was taken, the BJP was hoping that she would be able to pull in extra women voters for the party, given her strong credentials on women's safety and policing. Unfortunately for the party this has not happened. Even among the female voters of Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party enjoys a 12 per cent gap over the BJP. What hurts the BJP the most is that the party's popularity among women voters seems to have actually come down from 39 per cent to 35 per cent between the last tracker poll in January and now.

Vote by Gender

Gender   INC     BJP     AAP     Others  
  Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 2014 Jan 2015 Feb 2015 Dec 201 Jan 2015 Feb 2015
Female Vote  17 16 13 39 39 35 36 36 45 8 9 7
Male Vote 16 16 13 39 41 36 36 36 43 9 7 9

6. BJP's negative campaign boomeranged

The party that powered the most audacious and creative Lok Sabha campaign which left opponents in a daze, seems to have miscalculated its strategy for the Delhi elections. The BJP went deeply negative and levelled personal charges against Arvind Kejriwal. This strategy seems to have backfired. The BJP's popularity among voters with very high media exposure crashed from 35 per cent in January to 27 per cent in February, while the popularity of AAP among the same voters in this period jumped a whopping 17 per cent from 37 per cent to 54 per cent.

The only category of people where the BJP maintained its popularity over the past three weeks were voters with zero or very little media exposure. This suggests that news conscious voters tracked the Delhi campaign closely and have givena thumbs down to the BJP campaign while liking the new avatar of the AAP.

PS:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains the most potent electoral force for the BJP in Delhi and the party's only hope over the next 72 hours is to play the Modi card as prominently as it can and try to convince voters that that having Modi on their side can make a big difference to the quality of their lives. In a battle between Modi and Kejriwal, Modi may have triumphed but the BJP seems to have scored a self-goal by making the elections a battle between Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi.

The BJP is keeping a close eye on its local leaders to ensure that there is no scope of sabotage. BJP President Amit Shah has come down with a heavy hand on the sulking divas of the Delhi BJP.

The party is also hoping that the adverse opinion poll results will jolt workers who have been unhappy with Kiran Bedi's inclusion and they will step out of their cocoon and make a last ditch effort to draw voters to the polling booth. The level of engagement of local party workers can be crucial in a close election where the margin of victory is often just a few thousand votes.

Writer

Rahul Kanwal Rahul Kanwal @rahulkanwal

Managing Editor, India Today TV.

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