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Election Prediction Game from Rediff

Rediff has created an election prediction game. It is a cool mapplet that lets people predict the winner in each constituency.

Play the Rediff Election Game!
So you think you are an expert on politics?
As the world’s biggest democratic exercise gets underway, here’s your big chance to test your knowledge.

Which political party do you think will win from where? Use your political knowledge to cast your vote, and see how close you mirror the reality on May 16, when the 15th Lok Sabha elections will be known. [Rediff]

I tried to register my vote for a couple of constituencies last night, and the widget works quite well. The only drawback seems to be that you can’t see a view with just your predictions. The only view available is that of aggregate predictions.

However, I was surprised to note that both my predictions were in complete contrast with the majority market voice on Rediff for those constituencies. Then I checked the overall picture (I hadn’t realised earlier that it was the only view available):

Rediff Screenshot - 18/4/09, 1915 IST

Rediff Screenshot - 18/4/09, 1915 IST

And about 8 hours later:

Rediff Screenshot - 19/4/09, 0315 IST

Rediff Screenshot - 19/4/09, 0315 IST

It looks like there is either a huge pro-NDA bias in the readership of Rediff, or there is some sort of manipulation going on.

Now, if there is any manipulation going on, it is totally harmless fun, of course. In a prediction game, if you are going to register your biases rather than your analysis, then there is only one loser (it’s you). Since you’d only be losing your time and effort (I don’t see any prizes for accurate predictions as yet), I guess it is none of anybody else’s business.

Imagine, however, that there is no manipulation and it is simply a reflection of the pro-NDA bias of Rediff’s readership. Now, combine that with the impression one gets of the aptitude of the average Rediff reader from the discussions on Rediff’s messageboards. What does that say about the average NDA supporter then? Ha!

Don’t take the previous paragraph seriously though. While I certainly don’t have a very high opinion of the average Rediff messageboard commenter, I think those comments are spread quite evenly across the political spectrum.[1] My hunch is that there is some manipulation going on.

Don’t let that stop you from testing your analysis and registering your predictions. Remember, you only get one chance in 5 years (hopefully). Go for it.

Asides: Could this prediction game be considered a violation of the spirit of Election Commission’s guidelines on exit/opinion polls (I know that it is not a violation in letter certainly)? What happens if results of exit/opinion polls are published by an agency outside Indian legal jurisdiction? What happens if an Indian media outlet publishes (or republishes) results of an older poll while the ban is in place?

[1] There is some expected pro-NDA tilt though, because the BJP has a lot of support among NRIs and NRIs constitute a large chunk of Rediff’s readership. It has more to do with lack of internet peneteration in India than with anything else. This blog’s regular readership (all 7 of them) is also almost entirely NRI. Thankfully, their comments are better than those at Rediff messageboards.

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