UP Election analysis based on CSDS-LokNiti exit poll data (bit.ly/36g3333 ) and poll results (vote share & seats)
(1) There is a structural shift to a two party system in UP. Its not a temporary change: Mayawati is no longer interested in becoming CM and doesn’t have any second level leaders to take over from her. The Congress trend decline has reduced its vote share to less than that of others. Between 2017 and 2022 State elections, Congress vote share has declined by -3.1% and BSP’s vote share by -9.4%, while BJP share increased by 2.7% and the SP’s share by 12.2%. This large increase in the SP vote gave the impression to observers that it would win the election. But the structural change to a two party or bipolar system, ensured that this wouldn’t happen.
This change in electoral structure from a multiparty system to a two party one will have long term effects. It will reduce the volatility in results and provide a more stable electoral outcome, till the SP cobbles together a group whose vote share rivals that of the BJP.
(2) The Congress vote seems to have shifted largely to SP+, while the BSP vote has decline has been shared by both the SP and the BJP, with the latter getting a larger share. The BJP vote share among Jatav has gone up from 8% in 2017 to 21% in 2022. and among “other SCs” from 32% in 2017 to 41% in 2022. The overall result is that BJP is now a much more broad-based party in UP.
In comparison, the main opposition party in UP, the SP, appears to have become more castist-communal with the Yadav vote share increasing to 83% in 2022 from 68% in 2017 and the Muslim vote share rising to 79 % from. This shift is from other parties, not the BJP, whose vote share from Yadavs increased by 2% points and from Muslims by 3% points.
BJP has a large share of votes from every other community barring the Yadavs, the Muslims and to some extent the Jatavs. Thought the BSP’s vote share among Jatavs declined by 22% points, 65% of Jatavs still voted for BSP because of deep personal loyalty to Mayawati, even though she barely campaigned for the election. The BJP will likely try to raise their vote share of SCs by offering Ms Mayawati a position in the Union Govt.
(3) BJP has overcome the earlier bias against BJP among Women, going from a lower vote share from women than among men, to a 2% higher vote share among women than men. This is due to better law & order, delivery of free rations and better delivery of programs like gas cylinders, toilets and housing that affect the lives of non-working women, much more than men-folk who are out of the home during most of the day. This factor and the related social programs, also helped to counter the weakness in job market, particularly for youth, and the pandemic constrained economic opportunities.
The SP has become the men’s party with a 6% higher vote share among men, than among men.
(4) According to my 2004 model for the economics of election, the lower average per capita GDP growth rate during the 5 year tenure of the Yogi Govt, relative to the previous five years, should have reduced the vote share of the BJP in this election. The vote share however increased, because the BJP managed to convince the public that pandemic was an exogenous shock and the Govt did everything it possibly could to mitigate its huge negative impact on the population, particularly those worst affected by it. Free food has clearly played a big part in this.
Besides this much better targeting of subsidies (e.g. on LPG), welfare transfers (such as toilets, housing) to the needy has also had the effect of increasing the confidence and the dignity of welfare recipients. The effect of the broader availability of better quality public goods (clean water, road & electricity connectivity) will be more visible once the economy is back on the sustained growth path in 2022-23.