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Thursday, Sep 23, 2021
Outlook.com

The Slowest Steeplechase

Wonderland studios, slick potty seats and inaccurate number- crunching comprised polls on TV

The Slowest Steeplechase
The Slowest Steeplechase
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

TELEVISION election specials, those marathon shows that last two whole days, are made possible by India’s primitive vote counting methods. If Mr Gill or his successor ever succeed in making electronic counting general, election specials will become extinct in their present form. What’ll we miss?

I suppose we’ll miss the drawn- out tension of it all. Formally, describing the electoral countdown is like doing the commentary for an extremely slow horse race. The pundits who run election specials are rather like a bunch of bookies poring over their form books to predict which horse will win and by how many lengths. Because humans take themselves seriously, the experience, guesswork, folklore and voodoo that go into making forecasts get dignified into psephology and political analysis.

Psephologically, as exercises in political prediction, the countdown shows on Doordarshan, Star and Zee were disastrous. Navin, the DD psephologist, was overawed and underpowered. He managed to get every prediction wrong; at one point...

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