Analyse this: who is a spoiler in polls?

Understanding some electoral catchphrases with a two-year-old

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | March 14, 2014



Let's analyse the elections, I told Tuki. Yeah, let's analazyzize, she shot back, pumping her fist in the 'cholbe na cholbe na' fashion that is so unfashionable these days. So we decided to do what we are best at: we began analysing, complete with a bowl and scowl – a bowl of potato chips to give us that gravitas of analysing and decoding couch potatoes and a scowl on the respective foreheads to give us the gravity and brevity of a real-time analyser.

But ouch, there’s no couch in the room that has the TV, and no TV to slouch on in the room that has the aforementioned couch. So we dumped our analysing selves on the bed and began our job to save the nation. “In short,” I told Tuki, wearing my scowl and growl on the long sleeves of my shirt worn under the short-sleeved sweater, “we are checking out the dance of Indian democracy.”

“Right. In short,” Tuki told me, wearing her scowl and stifling her howl since the bowl lay empty before her (I had by then finished off all the chips) on the long sleeves of her sweater worn over the short-sleeved tee, “we are checking out the dance of democrazy.”

See Tuki, it’s c; not zee, I emphasised. Wrong, it’s NDTvee, not Zee, she emphasised right back to me.

Okay, let’s not analyse too much of each other’s nouns, pronouns, pronunciations and denunciations. We are analysis therapists, not speech therapists, I said, setting the agenda.

Right, she said.

Spoiler. Now that’s one word we needed to analyse, I said. Everyone seems to be using it.

What is a spoiler, Tuki asked.

You, for instance, I meant to say, but I did not.

A spoiler, they mean, is someone who might spoil the chances of others with his/her microscopically significant but holistically insignificant presence in a seat. She/he might not win enough votes numerically but will win enough votes arithmetically to spoil the chances of the winning candidate.

So no one wins in that case? Match drawn, Tuki asks.

Of course not. Someone has to win, but the winning one does not win.

Right, but how do we know who is the winning one unless the game is over, Tuki asked.

Well, we believe the candidate who should have won should win, and not someone who eventually wins has won because everyone ganged up against him/her.

So who’s the spoiler? Will there be one spoiler or multiple spoilers or everyone but the should-have-won-but-did-not-win candidate is a spoiler, she asked.

No, there is one spoiler who creates multiple effects. Ahem, I mean the spoiler has foiled the chances of the winner, I said, trying to sound authoritative.

But the winner did not win, she replied incredulously, which means the winner is not a winner.

But the winner would have won had this spoiler not spoiled his/her chances, I said, exasperated by now.

So analysts mean everyone but the candidate who should win should sit out and let the winner win on his/her own, she asked. Is that dance of democrazy?

See, Tuki, C. C C C C. DemocraCy. And let’s analyse some more to get to the bottom of the dance step, and separate the chaff from the wheat – or hip-hop from huff-huff.
 
(All dialogue in this column, except the proper nouns, are imaginary.)

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