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Does Trump have "Hidden" Voters as Many Republicans Claim? No, Probably Not

Recently, Donald Trump has claimed that the polls showing him losing to Joe Biden are wrong because there are many "hidden" Trump voters who won't tell pollsters that they will cast their ballot for him in November. Trump has taken to calling them the "silent majority," as Richard Nixon did. The argument is that some of the President's supporters lie so that the pollsters won't assume that they are bigots or not terribly bright.

There is some cause to worry about this because research after the 2016 election showed that many previously "undecided" voters ended up voting for Donald Trump that year, and polls didn't pick up the full level of support for the President in several swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

However, Trump's "fake polls" narrative about 2016 is mostly untrue. The final national popular vote surveys before the 2016 election showed Hillary Clinton with a 3.1 percentage point lead and she ended up winning by 2.1%. That's well within the margin of error. The same goes for state polls that captured the swing to Trump after the Comey letter was released. For instance, the average of the three final polls in Pennsylvania had Clinton leading by 1% and Trump won by just seven-tenths of a point. Again, extremely close.

Moreover, as we have said before, if you are concerned about "hidden" Trump voters, follow the Generic Congressional Ballot [GCB] polls instead. There is less reason to anticipate a "Trump effect" in those surveys and they accurately reflected the nation's mood in both 2016 and 2018. Actually, they underestimated the blue wave 2018 Democratic victory by about a point. And, right now, the GCB shows that Americans are going to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot in November. The current polling advantage for Democrats in the GCB is about 8 points, almost exactly where is was just prior to 2018's blue wave. In 2016, when Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by 2.1%, the GCB showed a similar small advantage for the Democrats nationally, 46 to 45%.

Several caveats. First, the polling of presidential elections in the U.S. tends to get closer near the end as voters gravitate to their natural, long-held allegiances, and pollsters begin to focus on likely voters instead of registered voters. Second, Trump could still win in the electoral college by capturing states like Wisconsin and Arizona with tiny majorities [a few thousand votes], even while losing California, New York and Illinois by tens of millions of votes. Third, our elections are about who shows up to vote, which candidate can turn out their base. And forth, Donald Trump is likely to plan some sort of bizarre surprise for late in the campaign meant to damage Joe Biden's reputation. Like much of what the President says, it will have little basis in fact, but it will be intended to reduce Democratic turnout.

So, the race is far from over and Trump still has a chance. If the Democratic advantage in the GCB falls to less than 3 points, and Trump pulls even in Wisconsin and Arizona, it might signal that he is staging a comeback, despite his failures, bigotry, and incompetence. That would be a tragedy, but it won't be the result of "hidden voters" or "fake polls." If Donald Trump is staging an unlikely comeback, we will see it coming in the polling data by mid-October.

#politics #research #2020election

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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