According to an opinion poll conducted by Thanthi TV, just before the RK Nagar bye-election, the contest between the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is a close one, with independent candidate TTV Dhinakaran playing spoilsport, splitting the votes between the two parties.
The RK Nagar seat fell vacant after former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaaâ€™s death.
Thanthi TV asked around 3,000 voters from the RK Nagar constituency about their views on the recent events influencing the polls and whom they will vote for. Jayalalithaaâ€™s death and Sasikalaâ€™s subsequent rise to power split the AIADMK into two warring factions, with interim Chief Minister O Panneerselvam rebelling against the party.
An April 2017 opinion poll saw a majority of voters saying that they would vote for AIADMK's OPS faction, while 25% had said they would vote for Sasikala's faction, 34% said they would vote for DMK and 6% said they would vote for others.
Thanthi TVâ€™s poll in December saw 35% people saying they would vote for a united AIADMK and a close 34% said they would vote for DMK. There is strong support for Sasikalaâ€™s nephew, TTV Dhinakaran, with 28% people saying they will vote for him.
With the 2G case verdict expected on polling day, the voters were asked if the judgement would sway their vote. An overwhelming majority (80%) no, while 6% said that it would. Fourteen per cent said they did not wish to express an opinion on the matter.
On being asked if there is an anti-incumbency wave, 48% said they were displeased with the functioning of the current AIADMK government, while 52% said they have never had any issues. Would people vote for the AIADMK in the absence of Jayalalithaa? Thirty-four per cent said that they would, while 54% said that they would not. In April, 59% had been willing to vote for an AIADMK without Jayalalithaa, while 36% had not been willing to do so.
Fifty-three per cent said that they would vote for the same party they voted for in the 2016 Assembly elections, while 32% said that they would not; 15% remain undecided.
The Election Commission (EC) has been in the spotlight for its role in the bye-elections. In April 2017, it rejected the nomination papers of actor Vishal and Jayalalithaaâ€™s niece, J Deepa. On the EC's decision to allot the two leaves symbol to the united AIADMK, half the voters said it was the wrong decision to take, while 38% said it was the right decision.
The EC has also been cracking down on the cash for votes scam underway at RK Nagar. However, 72% voters said that they would take the money given by political parties either because it is rightfully theirs or that they would take the money, but vote for whom they wanted.
About the two AIADMK factions burying the hatchet and merging after the April polls that were postponed, 38% said that this was a positive sign for the party, while another 38% said it would be disadvantageous to the party.