Urban Voting and Party Choices in Delhi: Matching Electoral Data with Property Category

By Bhanu Joshi, Kanhu Charan Pradhan, and Pranav Sidhwani
Economic and Political Weekly, 30 January 2016

Influence of wealth on electoral participation, has been of interest both at theoretical and empirical levels for researchers across many electoral democracies in the world. India remains an exception to the established narrative on a direct relation between economic and social wellbeing and political participation. Using aggregated constituency level data and survey techniques, scholars have identified several intriguing patterns in the Indian electoral behaviours particularly in urban settings. 
Our work adds nuance to these discussions based on insights gained from a unique database – which matches property tax categories and polling stations in Delhi. Our research, using the Delhi case shows that neighbourhoods have a significant influence on voting behaviours of both the rich and the poor in urban areas. We also show that poor datasets have been thwarting effective policymaking and research in Indian cities and creative use of available datasets can lead to significant leaps in policy imagination. 
Methodologically, this approach of using urban property tax as proxy for wealth, we argue opens up new dimensions – particularly, the significant influence that neighbourhoods exert on electoral behaviour on both rich and the poor.​