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CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey: Evaluating government’s performance and its impact on voting patterns

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As the dust settles on the 2024 general elections, an intricate tapestry of voter sentiment and political dynamics emerges, shedding light on how the BJP was left stranded for a majority. Despite garnering positive assessments for key initiatives like the Ram Mandir construction, promoting Hindutva and India’s global image, widespread economic concerns such as inflation and unemployment posed substantial challenges for the ruling party.

The judgment of the performance of the ruling government is considered an important indicator of the incumbent party’s success in any election. According to the CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey 2024, there was general satisfaction with the Union government’s performance, though it has declined compared to 2019. This time, about six in 10 respondents reported being fully or partly satisfied with the Modi government, a six percentage point decline from 2019 (Table 1). Moreover, the data also reveals a seven percentage point increase in overall dissatisfaction since 2019, suggesting challenges for the BJP in maintaining voter satisfaction.

Most liked work of Union government

Given the somewhat high level of satisfaction highlighted in the data, it becomes a matter of interest as to why the voters were satisfied with the government. We asked respondents to identify the one initiative they appreciated most about the Modi government in the past five years. The question was open-ended, and the construction of the Ram Mandir was reported as the most favored initiative, appreciated by over two of every ten (22%) respondents. This was followed by efforts in poverty reduction, development initiatives and the creation of employment opportunities (6% each). Additionally, one in 10 voters cited the promotion of Hindutva and the elevation of India’s international standing as the government’s most commendable achievements (Table 2). As can be imagined, satisfaction on account of religious and cultural initiatives rather than core economic performance must have cost the party.

54% of those who appreciated the Ram Mandir construction voted for the BJP. Similarly, 41% of those who favoured poverty reduction initiatives supported the BJP, demonstrating a preference for the party’s economic policies (Table 3). Additionally, 53% of those who acknowledged development initiatives voted for the BJP. This goes to suggest the close association between what the voters liked and how they voted.

It is also important to highlight that one-seventh (14%) of the respondents said that they did not like any work of the Modi government in the last five years. This raises the question of which aspects of the government’s work were most disliked by these voters.

Most disliked work of Union government

The data shows an increase in dissatisfaction since 2019, prompting one to explore the areas where voters were discontented with the government. Nearly a quarter of the electorate cited price rise and unemployment as the most disliked work of the Union government’s performance. Additionally, one in ten highlighted poverty. Thus, economic issues and cultural-religious issues worked in opposite directions for the government in these elections.

During the 2019 CSDS-Lokniti post-poll study, when people were asked about the most important voting issue, 11% cited unemployment, and 4% mentioned a price rise. These issues have persisted and were mentioned in the 2024 survey, with higher levels of dissatisfaction. According to the pre-poll survey conducted by CSDS-Lokniti, 27% of voters identified unemployment as a significant issue, compared to just 11% in 2019. Similarly, concerns about price rise have surged from 4% in 2019 to 23% in 2024. These heightened economic concerns have greatly impacted voter sentiment, overshadowing the government’s projected achievements. Additionally, 8% of respondents reported increasing communalism/religious conflicts as the most disliked aspect of the government’s performance, further shaping voter behaviour.

Though the BJP retained some support from voters who identified rising price, unemployment, and poverty as their primary concerns, the combined opposition effectively attracted a significant portion of these voters, thereby denting the BJP’s support (Table 5).

Overall satisfaction and vote choice

The data on satisfaction levels with the ruling government and its impact on voting patterns shows that fully satisfied voters predominantly supported the BJP and its allies, with eight in 10 such voters voting for the NDA alliance. However, among those who were dissatisfied to some degree with the work done by the NDA, a significant portion voted for the INDIA bloc or other opposition parties. This cumulative dissatisfaction with key issues ultimately tipped the scales against the BJP, explaining the drop in vote share and seats in these elections.

(The authors are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS)



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