Pollster says 'shy Trump voters' will propel the president to victory

Pollster who predicted president’s victory in 2016 says ‘there are more shy Trump voters than last time’ – casting doubt on polls that show Biden with a commanding lead

  • Most major national polls show Joe Biden with a commanding lead over Donald Trump going into Election Day 
  • But a small group of pollsters say ‘hidden’ Trump voters could pave the president’s way to victory
  • The Trafalgar Group, one of the only nonpartisan outlets to predict Trump’s win in 2016, is predicting the same result this year  
  • ‘There are more [shy Trump voters] than last time and it’s not even a contest,’ Trafalgar analyst Robert Cahaly said
  • He said its ‘quite possible’ that the polling industry has misjudged this year’s election results the same way it did in 2016 

As most major national polls show Joe Biden with a commanding lead over Donald Trump going into Election Day, a small group of pollsters have cautioned that ‘shy’ Trump voters could pave the president’s way to victory.   

Among those suggesting that the Trump’s prospects are being understated is Robert Cahaly of The Trafalgar Group, one of the only nonpartisan outlets that predicted a Republican victory in 2016 after finding that Trump was leading in the key battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania. 

This year Trafalgar’s analysis in the final days leading up to the election has again found a small lead for Trump in both of those states, contradicting nearly every other major poll.  

In the last presidential election, the polling industry faced embarrassment after projections vastly underrated Trump’s chances at winning. 

Cahaly said its ‘quite possible’ that the same will happen in 2020, again because a hidden Trump vote was overlooked.  

‘There are more [shy Trump voters] than last time and it’s not even a contest,’ Cahaly told The Hill on Monday. 


As most major national polls show Joe Biden with a commanding lead over Donald Trump going into Election Day, a small group of pollsters have cautioned that ‘shy’ Trump voters could pave the president’s way to victory

The Trafalgar Group, one of the only nonpartisan outlets to predict Trump’s win in 2016, is predicting the same result this year. A Trafalgar survey released Sunday (pictured) showed Trump with 46.5 percent of the vote compared to Biden’s 44.1 percent

Susquehanna Polling and Research has also promoted the hidden Trump voter theory, as its most recent survey put Trump and Biden neck and neck in Wisconsin and gave the president a four-point lead in Florida.  

‘There are a lot of voters out there that don’t want to admit they are voting for a guy that has been called a racist,’ Susquehanna analyst Jim Lee told WFMZ this week. 

‘That submerged Trump factor is very real. We have been able to capture it and I’m really disappointed others have not.’  

But many pollsters have rejected the idea that Trump voters are hiding, in part by disputing the reliability of Trafalgar’s polling methods. 

‘[Trafalgar] doesn’t disclose their “proprietary digital methods” so I can’t really evaluate what they’re doing,’ Jon McHenry, a Republican pollster with North Star Opinion Research, told The Hill.

‘They’re far enough out on a limb that a year from now, we’ll all remember if they were very right or very wrong.’ 

McHenry said he thinks its unlikely that Trump voters would lie about their voting plans when approached by pollsters, but acknowledged that data could be skewed if Trump voters are less likely to participate in surveys altogether.  

However, he said that kind of ‘skewed response pattern’ wouldn’t necessarily result in worse projections for Trump. 

He cited Pennsylvania as an example of a state where Democrats have been found to be less likely to speak to pollsters than Republicans, meaning that they may be underrepresented in the results.  

McHenry said that while he can’t rule out response bias, he’s ‘skeptical’ of it. 

‘It certainly wouldn’t be enough to explain the national deficits we’re seeing,’ McHenry said. 

A Morning Consult poll out Monday showed Biden leading Trump in five battleground states 

Biden is heading into Election Day with a raft of positive news on the polling front – with new surveys Monday showing him leading Trump in Florida and Ohio – and a massive survey giving him the edge in battleground states. 

New Quinnipiac University polls released Monday gave him a five point lead in Florida (47 to 42), a four point lead in Ohio (47 to 43), while a new Marist / NBC poll has him up 5 in Pennsylvania (51 to 46) and over a majority there. 

Of the big battlegrounds, Biden may be able to carry the day in the Electoral College even without Florida and Ohio – presenting him at least the possibility of scoring a decisive win if the winds are blowing his way Tuesday, even with as much as a record of two-thirds of the vote already in.  

Biden is leading outside the margin of error in several key battleground states in a poll released the day before Election Day, giving him enough of a lead to take the White House.

Even deep red Texas appears to be up-in-the air with a tie between the Democratic nominee and Trump.

Florida, the most influential swing state with 29 Electoral College votes, and Pennsylvania, holding 20 Electoral College votes, are two states considered to be must-wins for Trump to secure another term.

Biden is ahead in both, according to a Morning Consult poll released Monday and taken October 22-31, by six points in Florida and nine in Pennsylvania.

The Morning Consult poll surveyed 4,451 likely voters in Florida and 2,686 likely voters in Pennsylvania.

Support for Trump has dropped since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the national Morning Consult poll

National breakdown by demographic of who the 14,663 likely voters polled support in the presidential election

Trump could find more encouraging news in a pair of Arizona polls, with an NBC/Maris poll showing a tie at 48 percent and a 49 to 47 Joe Biden lead in the final Reuters / Ipsos poll of the cycle in the state. They helped bring Biden’s lead in a polling average down to half a percentage point. 

The results in Pennsylvania, potentially the most consequential state for Trump clinching a win, are likely to still be unknown on Election Night as the Supreme Court ruled last month that the Keystone State can accept and count mail-in ballots through Friday – three days after the election.

Morning Consult’s projection for Pennsylvania is slightly rosier for Biden than Monmouth University’s, also released Monday, which puts the Democrat between five and seven points ahead.

If there is high turnout, it suggests he will win 51 percent to 44 percent, if there is ‘low turnout’ – which could include large-scale disqualification of mail-in ballots – he would win 50 percent to 45 percent. Monmouth’s margin of error is 4.4 percent, putting its predictions inside it.

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