The stock market’s reception to the ongoing elections has showcased the nervousness and fatigue of investors to an extent, as the voter turnout after three phases now stands at just over 66 per cent. However, researchers of Bernstein emphasized that there are no obvious correlation trends between voting per cent as against election based on past elections.

“Only the case of a large vote share decline (over 5 per cent) and significant anti-incumbency is where the elections become a market-defining event. The fact that the opposition is more united nationally this time should start having meaningful repercussions only at this stage,” Bernstein report said.

“Assuming a minor decline of 2.5 per cent for overall voting and assuming INC captures 75 per cent of the anti-incumbency, we still have the BJP’s vote share at 32.7 per cent compared to that of INC at 22.2 per cent. Thus, even with anti-incumbency, a minor vote share decline does not translate to any election surprises. The opposition seats will go up given that we are seeing a combined INDIA alliance, but a major loss to BJP seats is unlikely,” it added.

The brokerage firm pointed out a common issue it noticed is looking at the immediate voter turnout data after the conclusion of a phase and comparing it to 2019 data is unfair as the data released the same day or available the next day does not include ballot voting. “Once ECI released the final data for the first 2 phases, including the ballot votes (11 days delay for phase 1, which did result in a furore), the voting percentage increased by 5.5 per cent - bridging quite a lot of gap,” it said.

Meanwhile, the ballot paper impact, this time, is reportedly larger than what used to be in the past years. In addition, the brokerage said that a lesser cited fact behind the declining voting per cent is that the country nearly added 60 million voters (net) to its count between the 2019 general elections and 2024. Nearly 20 million of them are freshly registered voters in the 18-29 age group. “While the percentage may see a minor decline, the absolute numbers will likely increase.”

Bernstein has categorised voters into three divisions: pro-NDA, anti-NDA, and swing voters. It said that these were instrumental to BJP’s victories in 2014 and 2019. “Looking at the data of all general elections since 1999, we assume that the core voter base of both parties would be around 18-20 per cent, as this is the minimum vote share both parties have, even at their worst - INC in 2019 and BJP in 2009. The election outcome was mainly decided by the swing voters, who overwhelmingly voted for BJP in 2014 and 2019.”

A lack of connection with an issue on the ground or lack of connection with the opposition may discourage swing voters from voting. The brokerage observed there were not enough swing votes in favor of INC in 2019 (barely 0.5 per cent). “So, assuming the core voters will mostly turn up, the loss due to swing voters will likely be for NDA. The second point to remember is that the BJP may lose vote share due to voters abstaining or anti-incumbency factor, among which the INC will only gain due to the anti-incumbency loss (voters abstaining will not benefit it directly),” it added.

The Lok Sabha election results will be out on June 4, 2024.

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