What affects voters' decision? Real issues or perception
New Delhi, May 20: A five year democratic cycle has ended and a new government would take charge in a few days, but what would or rather should be the priorities of the new regime. The priorities of a new regime depends on indirect feedback given by the voters and also to an extent on internal studies within a party.
What it ultimately boils down to are the issues that led people to make a choice before casting vote. Were these issues real of mere perceptions? Perceptions can be created to shroud the pressing matters that really matter the most to the country. An illusion of well being can be created despite many key indicators pointing at fundamental problems. Benefits of such perceptions and illusions would be short lived and the people on the whole will have to pay the price in the long run.
Reports of joblessness being at a four-decade high have been doing rounds for quite sometime, so are concerns over agrarian crisis and rising price of food items, but the questions is whether the voter considered these as being important. Experts can debate at lenghts on TV channels and try to explain the state of economy, but would a voter consider this while casting vote.
A lot has been spoken about joblessness, but as per a nationwide post-poll survey, conducted by Lokniti, only 12% of the voters interviewed spontaneously said the issue of unemployment would have a bearing on decision while casting vote. However, it was found that joblessness came up as a 'serious issue' for respondents only upon in-depth probing. So, are the votes being cast based on top of the mind perceptions?
Similarly, price rise or inflation was reported as being the most important voting issue by merely 4% of the voters, a report published in The Hindu on Lokniti survey said.
If the above example shows one facet of how voters decide, another startling finding is this. During the pre-poll survey, conducted somewhere around March 2019, 21% of the voters said that lack of jobs was going to be the most important voting issue and price rise was a important issue for 7% of the voters.
What led to this change as the elections approached? Voters seem to be obsessed with a general idea called "development". If this drives voting decision, then it is actually the perception of it that is pushing the voter to make a choice. The fundamental question is this, is voter quantitatively assessing the factors that matter to him/her or is it the perception that is driving him/her. The Lokniti survey suggests that many voters may have ended up looking at the matter of issues through the lens of their own political preferences than the other way round.