All India Survey on Governance Issues and Voting Behavior 2018


The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) surveyed over 2.73 lakh voters in 534 Lok Sabha constituencies in its third national survey of voters between October and December 2018. Previous surveys were carried out in 2014 (before the Lok Sabha elections) and in 2017. ADR is a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation that works in the area of electoral and political reforms.

This survey of the ‘eligible electorate’ (citizens who are 18 years and above) sought to ascertain voters’ governance-related priorities. It also aimed to assess their perception of the government’s performance on these priorities and to identify the factors that influence voter behaviour.

The survey’s other objectives included assessing voters’ expectations of the government; their opinions on candidates with criminal backgrounds contesting elections; their exposure to inducements offered to voters; their awareness of the role of crime and money in elections; and their thoughts on the electoral process in a democracy.

Of the total number of respondents, 64.88 per cent were men and 35.12 per cent were women. Around 65.28 per cent of all the respondents were between the ages of 18 and 40; 64.84 per cent were from rural areas and 35.36 per cent were from urban areas. Overall, voters found the government’s performance to be ‘below average’ on all 31 governance issues listed in the survey. 


  1. The topmost priorities for voters across all states and divides – age, gender, social, rural/urban and wealth – were ‘better employment opportunities’ and ‘better hospitals/primary healthcare centres’.

  2. 46.80 per cent of voters said ‘better employment opportunities’ was their topmost priority, followed by ‘better hospitals/primary healthcare centres’ (34.60 per cent), and ‘drinking water’ (30.50 per cent). 

  3. On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was bad and 5 was good, voters rated the government’s performance as ‘below average’ on these priorities – 2.15 on ‘better employment opportunities’, 2.35 on ‘better hospitals/primary healthcare centres’, and 2.52 on ‘drinking water’. 

  4. For 44.21 per cent of rural voters, ‘better employment opportunities’ was the topmost priority, followed by ‘availability of water for agriculture’ (40.62 per cent) and ‘agriculture loan availability’ (39.42 per cent). Rural voters rated the government ‘below average’ on these priorities, giving it a score of 2.17, 2.18 and 2.15, respectively. 

  5. Priorities that closely followed were higher price realisation for farm products (39.09 per cent of responses), agricultural subsidies for seeds/fertilisers (38.56 per cent), and electricity for agriculture (36.62 per cent). The government’s performance on them was rated at 2.23, 2.06 and 2.14, respectively.

  6. Among rural voters, ‘better public transport’ ranked 10th in the list of priorities, but, in their view, the government performed the best on it, with a score of 2.67.

  7. Among urban voters, 51.60 per cent of respondents listed ‘better employment opportunities’ as their topmost priority and rated the government’s performance on it at 2.1. Other priorities followed, such as ‘better hospitals/ primary healthcare centres’ (39.41 per cent of respondents; government’s performance rated at 2.34), ‘traffic congestion’ (37.17 per cent; 2.25), ‘drinking water’ (35.03 per cent; 2.40) and ‘better roads’ (34.91 per cent, 2.23).

  8. A comparison of ADR’s 2017 and 2018 surveys shows that the top two voter priorities remained unchanged: ‘better employment opportunities’ and ‘better hospitals/primary healthcare centres’. 

  9. In the 2018 survey, 47 per cent of voters listed ‘better employment opportunities’ as their topmost priority compared to 30 per cent in the 2017 survey. Voters’ rating of the government’s performance dropped from 3.17 in 2017 to 2.15 in 2018. 

  10. ‘Better hospitals/primary healthcare centres’ was listed as the second most important priority by 25 per cent of voters in 2017 and 35 per cent of voters in 2018. The government’s performance on this priority dropped from 3.36 in 2017 to 2.35 in 2018.

  11. The government’s performance on the top five voter priorities dropped from above average in 2017 to below average in 2018.

  12. Around 75.11 per cent of all respondents in the 2018 survey said that the most important factor for them was the chief ministerial candidate of the party they were voting for. This was followed by the candidate’s party (71.32 per cent of respondents) and the candidate himself/herself (68.03 per cent).

  13. ADR’s 2018 survey says that 38 per cent of eligible voters did not vote in the last election because their names were missing from the electoral rolls, while 31 per cent did not vote because they were not registered with the Election Commission of India. 

  14. A majority of the voters (84.14 per cent) said that their own opinion mattered most while voting, followed by the opinion of their husband/wife (6.10 per cent) and of their family members (6.03 per cent)

  15. Around 97.86 per cent of voters did not want candidates with a criminal background in Parliament or the state Assembly.  Nearly 73 per cent of voters were aware that the distribution of cash, money or gifts by candidates ahead of elections is illegal. Only 35.20 per cent knew that they could easily get information about the criminal records of candidates. 

    Focus and Factoids by Abizar Shaikh.


Association for Democratic Reforms


Association for Democratic Reforms, New Delhi


25 Mar, 2019