Suppose there is a political party X with a set of policies Y, how could we identify from the set of policies y, those policy which led to popularity of a party?

The motivation for the question was when I was reading Narenda Modi's wiki page,

Modi framed the criticism of his government for human rights violations as an attack upon Gujarati pride, a strategy which led to the BJP winning two-thirds (127 of 182) of the seats in the state assembly. He won the Maninagar constituency, defeating INC candidate Yatin Oza. On 22 December 2002, Bhandari swore Modi in for a second term.

How would one conclude that the policy of reframing Human right violation is reason why Modi was led to victory?

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    By clever polling of the electorate maybe. However the Wikipedia page (hopefully) only cites another source and that could simply be the opinion of somebody, even though it may be an expert's opinion. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 22:43
  • Your quote doesn't appear on WP. It may be from a publication by some Tommaso Bobbio, a Historian from Italy. It may only his personal opinion. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 22:46
  • @Trilarion: it appears for me en.wikipedia.org/w/… Search for "Gujarati pride'. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 22:51
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    There are lots of methods of doing this, like polling, focus groups, and informally asking people. But none are entirely accurate - people sometimes respond instinctively without thinking through what they like about a party, and people may lie to researchers (e.g. pretending they are more high-minded and moral than they really are). But basically, the answer is simple: by asking people why they like a party.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 22:59
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    I've read a bit of Bobbio's article, where he does say something like that (p. 658) but it's not backed by anymore of a reasoning than Modi not having lost that election means "this kind of propaganda proved effective in terms of electoral results". Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 23:23

1 Answer 1


By asking.

The easiest way to find out why someone voted as they did is to ask them. If you ask enough people you can reach some kind of statistical significance, and confidence in the answers. This is called an opinion poll, and is a normal part of political life.

Of course people may suffer from self-deception, or they may lie to pollsters. So it may be necessary to design a "clever" poll to get people to say what they really think. Focus groups can be useful in this context, by asking fewer people more detailed questions. But the principle is the same. If you want to know why somebody did something, try asking.

  • One can also look comparatively at which policies (or non-policy actions) when adopted were followed by political parties adopting them become more popular without trusting people's self-expressed reasons at all (in the same vein, how positive restaurant reviews are has been found to closely track the weather on the day of the review regardless of the reasons actually stated in the review). There are well known election outcome prediction models based upon these factors (mostly the health of the economy).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 3, 2022 at 23:52

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