Back in August, a study showed the “shy voter” phenomenon was real, that up to 12 percent of Republican voters said they would not share their voting preference with a pollster.
The thinking behind the “shy” or “hidden” voter phenomenon is that the polls do not accurately reflect what’s really happening out there. So on election night, when the votes are actually counted, President Donald Trump could shock the world again with a come-from-behind win. As we all know, this is what happened in 2016. Trump lost the national popular vote by only a few points, but won a bunch of states no one expected him to win, most especially state pollsters.
Bad polling? Or do Trump voters hang up on pollsters? Do they lie to pollsters?
There are all kinds of reasons to lie to pollsters. Republicans, Trump voters especially (and for good reason), despise the media. So why cooperate with their polls? Another reason could be fear. We now live in a world where supporting Trump can get you fired from your job, result in vandalism against your property, result in violence against your person.
So the study makes sense.
On top of the study are the polls themselves. Some things just don’t compute.
Trump won Texas by nine points in 2016. Is it possible, he’s only up by four today? In Texas?
Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016. Is it possible he’s down a point today? A nine point swing against him?
Trump won Missouri by 19 points in 2016. Polls today only show him up in single digits. One has him up by only four points.
Trump won Georgia by five in 2016. Now he’s tied, with the most recent polls telling us Biden’s up by a point or two.
Has Wisconsin swung seven whole points against Trump since 2016?
A seven point swing against Trump in North Carolina?
Other polls make me question these polls.
For example, 56 percent of registered voters just told Gallup they are better off today than they were four years ago, better off than they were when Joe Biden was vice president. That number is higher than it was for any recent president who won reelection.
What’s more, Trump’s national average approval rating is 45 percent.
Nevertheless, the national election polls tell us only 41.7 percent are going to vote to reelect him?
There are other things…
If Trump is down so far, why are Biden and Kamala Harris visiting places like Arizona and Nevada? Hitting Michigan and Wisconsin? You’d think he’d be in states like Texas trying to pick those off. Not defending states like Nevada, which Hillary won in 2016.
As I mentioned yesterday, there is also the enthusiasm gap. Practically no one — and that’s not an exaggeration — shows up to Biden-Harris events, while Trump’s personal appearances literally look like rock concerts.
The polling also reflects a double-digit enthusiasm gap.
Usually when a presidential contender is losing, everything lines up against him. And I mean everything. The polls are consistent and make sense. The crowds make sense. The enthusiasm gap makes sense. That’s just not true today and it wasn’t true when the polls were wrong in 2016.
I’m not making any predictions, but it would not surprise me at all to be surprised on Election Night.