Trump Supporters Are Keeping Quiet About Their Support – And That Could Be Affecting the Polls

Trump Supporters Are Keeping Quiet About Their Support – And That Could Be Affecting the Polls

The latest data out of Rasmussen Reports shows that the silent majority is remaining silent – and that’s giving the false impression that the “majority” is no more.

That conservatives are less likely than liberals to share their political opinions is no secret, but the extent to which the former is hiding their beliefs over the latter is up for debate.

According to Rasmussen Reports, there is a nine percentage point gap in those hiding who they’ll vote for between the President’s biggest supports and detractors.

  • 17% of Likely U.S. Voters who Strongly Approve of the job President Trump is doing say they are less likely to let others know how they intend to vote in the upcoming election. By comparison, just half as many (8%) of those who Strongly Disapprove of the president’s performance say the same.
  • A similar but narrower gap is evident between the two parties. Sixteen percent (16%) of Republicans are less likely to tell others how they intend to vote, compared to 12% of Democrats.

In an article last week I argued that the polls were likely understating President Trump’s true support by 4-6 points. That was on the basis that:

    • On election day 2016, an average of polling estimates had Hillary Clinton six points ahead, and the Huffington Post infamously gave Hillary a 98.1% chance of winning the presidency, scoring 323 electoral votes in the process.  Despite common accusations of Republican bias, Rasmussen Reports had the most accurate polling numbers, with Hillary Clinton up 1.7 points over Trump on election day 2016 (for context, Hillary ended up leading the popular vote by 2.1%, so the average poll was off by four points).
    • CloudResearch, an online market research and data collection company, found that 11.7% of Republicans and 10.5% of independents said they wouldn’t share their true opinion, while only 5.4% of Democrats said the same. In other words, there’s a 6.3 percentage point gap in the willingness for Republicans and Democrats to share their opinions, to the detriment of Trump’s support in the polls.

It’s also worth noting how poorly designed many headline grabbing polls are. One recent YouGov/CBS seemingly paradoxically had Biden leading Trump by 10 points overall while having Trump lead Biden up 10 points among independents. While roughly the same percentage of the population identifies as Republican and Democrat, YouGov’s sample is only 30% Republican, but 42% Democrat, creating a +12 bias in favor of Democrats.

Not only does Biden need at least a four point lead in the polls to effectively be tied with Trump (going by the most conservative estimate of how they’re understating support), the distribution of that support matters. Biden picking up additional support in California is completely useless for him due to our electoral college system, for example.
Because of how Trump is performing this far in key battleground states, Biden could need a 3-4 point in the popular vote just to have a greater than 50% chance of winning in the electoral college. Even if Biden leads the popular vote by a point there’s still a 94% chance Trump would become President, and the figure is 78% in Trump’s favor if Biden leads 1-2 points.

So for Biden, good luck overcoming those odds (but not really).

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