Outlook commissioned A.C. Nielsen, the largest market research agency in the world, to gauge the mood of the electorate after Sonia Gandhi announced her decision to campaign for the Congress. A total of 7,576 respondents were interviewed in 41 parliamentary constituencies spread across 10 states, for which fieldwork was carried out between January 4 and January 10, 1998.
Personal face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire were conducted with a sample of the voting public chosen through random starting addresses. Within each parliamentary constituency, three assembly constituencies were covered and the sample was evenly spread over the three. Fieldwork in each parliamentary constituency was planned such that a minimum of six villages (two in each of the three selected assembly constituencies) and three urban pockets (one in each of the selected assembly constituency) were covered.
The constituencies covered were: Anankapalli, Ongole, Nagar Kurnool and Peddapalli in Andhra Pradesh;Bettiah, Muzaffarpur, Sararam, Kishanganj and Begusarai (Bihar); Jamnagar, Dohod and Bharuch (Gujarat); Bellary, Mangalore, Dharwad North and Bijapur (Karnataka); Bhind, Mahasamund and Indore (Madhya Pradesh); Ramtek, Rajapur, Dhulia and Bhir (Maharashtra); Churu, Tonk and Jalore (Rajasthan); Madras North, Krishnagiri, Karur and Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu); Rampur, Sitapur, Sultanpur, Jalaun, Hapur, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur and Robertsganj (Uttar Pradesh); Jalpaiguri, Jadavpur and Calcutta South (West Bengal).
A.C. Nielsen used a unique forecasting model laying strong emphasis on attitudes people express towards a particular party, in terms of how they feel each party can tackle current political issues such as price rise, corruption and law and order. These responses were then weighted to determine a surrogate voting intention for each individual. Emphasis was also given to the swing in voting by asking respondents two questions rather than just one normally asked in opinion polls: if the Lok Sabha elections were to be held tomorrow, which party would you vote for? Which party did you vote for in the last Lok Sabha elections