Karnataka Assembly Elections 2023: Hung assembly, say exit polls. The same was predicted in 2018. Will it come true?

The final vote has been cast for the Karnataka Assembly election and the results for the southern state will only be known on 13 May. However, in the meantime, various exit polls have been released, painting the political picture of the state and deciding the future of the parties – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).
The exit polls for Karnataka have predicted a hung assembly, with most giving a slight edge to the Congress. The other big takeaway from the exit polls is that HD Kumaraswamy’s JD(S) is most likely to play kingmaker in the 224-seat Assembly.
It remains to be seen, however, if pollsters are right, as they were in 2018. For those who have forgotten, in 2018, the exit polls had predicted a hung assembly with the BJP emerging as the single largest party and the actual results had gone the same way.
Will 2023 be a repeat of 2018? Have the pollsters correctly predicted the political future? Here’s an in-depth look of what happened then and now.
What 2023 looks like?
Of all the exit polls carried out, most of them have predicted a hung assembly in Karnataka but given the upper hand to the Congress. They stated that it would be the JD(S) that could decide who would be in power in the state.
Of all the exit polls, two of them – News 24-Today’s Chanakya and India Today- Axis My India – predicted a clear win for the Congress. In the 224-member Assembly, a clear majority is 113 seats. While News 24-Today’s Chanakya predicted 120+ seats for the Congress, the India Today- Axis My India gave the Congress 122-140 seats. The exit poll by Zee News Matrize has predicted a win for the Congress by the narrowest of margins – 103-118. Similarly, the India TV-CNX has also given it to the Grand Old Party with 110-120 seats.

Two of the exit polls, however, gave the win to the BJP. The ‘News Nation-CGS’ exit poll has the BJP just inching past the majority mark, bagging 114 seats. It says the Congress will win 86 and the JD(S)’s tally to be 21.
The ‘Asianet Suvarna-Jan Ki Baat’ exit poll has given BJP between 94 to 117 seats and Congress, 91 to 106 seats. JD(S) is projected to get us 14 to 24 seats.
The BJP has rejected most of the predictions, with Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai , being quoted as saying in his constituency of Shiggaon, “Exit polls are exit polls. They can’t be 100 per cent correct. There will be variation that can change the whole scenario.”
“Our ground report says we will win with absolute majority. Let us wait till May 13 (the counting day),” he said.
It was a sentiment that even his predecessor and BJP strongman BS Yediyurappa held. Speaking to ANI , Yediyurappa said, “Even now I am 100 per cent confident that we are going to form the government with absolute majority.”

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BJP’s I-T head Amit Malviya also refuted the exit polls, saying there was nothing that suggests that the Congress will have a ‘run away win’ – not in voting percentage, not on the ground. “These are just exit polls and not the actual result. Keep an ambulance handy in case the result flips, which is very likely.”
The Congress, on the other hand too, refuted the results of the exit polls, saying their numbers would be even bigger than what was predicted. DK Shivakumar , Congress’ senior leader, and troubleshooter, speaking to news agency ANI said, “My first reaction is that I don’t believe these numbers (exit polls). I stand by my numbers that we will cross 146 seats. People are highly educated and are looking at larger interests because the double engine has failed in Karnataka. The situation will not arise (to form alliance with any party).”
Jagadish Shettar, a veteran BJP leader who switched to the Congress ahead of the polls, was also confident of a win, saying: “Congress will get a clear majority and form the government. There is no question of coalition with any other party, especially JD(S).”

Interestingly, both Congress and BJP are gaining vote share percentages in the 2023 Karnataka Assembly election when compared to the 2018 Karnataka Assembly election. According to the ABP-CVoter exit poll, the Congress is predicted to get 41 per cent of the total votes – an upswing of 3.1 per cent vote share.
The same exit poll has also recorded growth for the BJP. It has predicted a 38.3 per cent vote share for the saffron party. JD(S) is the one taking a fall in vote share percentage, with 14.6 per cent of the votes coming their way.
What happened in 2018?
The results predicted by the exit polls presently – a hung assembly – is very similar to what was predicted in 2018, with the big difference being that they had predicted the BJP as emerging as the single largest party then.
Of the eight major exit polls aired on television channels, six had predicted that the BJP would get the largest number of seats in the Assembly. All the polls had then suggested that the JD(S) would be kingmaker, with the party predicted to get between 20 and 40 seats.

The ABP-C Voter, NewsX-CNX, Republic-Jan ki Baat and News Nation exit polls predicted the BJP would be the largest party in the Assembly. A similar prediction was made by the regional Dighvijay-Vijayawani survey.
Times Now-VMR gave the Congress a narrow lead, while the Times Now-Today’s Chanakya gave the BJP a clear majorit. The India Today-Axis exit poll said the Congress would be the single largest party.
The ABP-C Voter survey predicted 104-116 seats for the BJP, followed by 83-94 for the Congress, and 20-29 for the JD(S). NewsX-CNX predicted 102-110 seats for the BJP, 72-78 for the Congress, 35-39 for the JD (S), and 3-5 for others. The Republic-Jan ki Baat poll said the BJP would get 104, Congress 78, JD(S) 37, and others 3.
While the exit polls rightly predicted the BJP emerging as the single largest party – the saffron party in the 2018 Assembly elections won 104 seats – they overestimated the seat share of the Congress, while underestimating that of the JD(S).
Come 13 May and we shall know if the southern state has maintained its voting record since 1985 of going against the incumbent government. The BJP would hope not and has put up a spirited fight, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi carrying out a mammoth roadshow in Bengaluru and 18 public rallies.
The Congress , on the other hand, is hoping to win in Karnataka and regain some ground it has lost to the saffron party. If they win, it could also set the foundation for the upcoming general elections of 2024.
With inputs from agencies
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