Hidden Trump voters could have big November impact

Trump supporters are far more likely to hide their preference in polls. This was the finding of recent research that investigated this increasingly prevalent assumption. If true in even small percentages, an imposing Trump surge could be hiding within the electorate.  

There is growing suspicion that Trump supporters are not divulging their preferences to pollsters. This would hardly be surprising considering the left’s current cancel culture climate.  

Five years of vituperation has increasingly turned violent. There are daily occurrences for those willing to objectively look at the riots occurring in big cities across America. Even high-profile people are not immune, as Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s narrow escape outside the White House following President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE’s acceptance speech demonstrated. It is logical that ordinary Americans could feel vulnerable.   

ADVERTISEMENT

To test this theory, CloudResearch recently sampled American voters in search of what they term “shy voters.” Their results show that Trump supporters were “significantly more reluctant to share their opinions on phone surveys compared to Biden supporters.” Almost 12 percent of Republicans and nearly 11 percent of Independents, were also almost twice as likely to be reticent than Democrats (about 5 percent).  

These seemingly small percentages could have major November implications. For illustration of roughly how big, look at 2016 exit polling.   

In the last presidential election, 36 percent of voters were Democrats, while 33 percent were Republicans and 31 percent were Independents. Applying CloudResearch’s “shy voter” percentages to each group yields 9 percent of the electorate as not giving their true candidate preferences.   

However, those roughly one in 11 reticent voters are not, as CloudResearch discovered, evenly distributed between Donald Trump and Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE. Instead, they run about 2-to-1 in Trump’s favor. On the net, they come out to around a 3 percent hidden “Trump bump.”   

Again, that may appear small, but not in what is an increasingly tight race. According to Real Clear Politics’s average of polling results, Biden’s national lead is now just 6 percent — down from 9 percent on July 1. Currently, Biden’s lead in the all-important top battleground states is far narrower — just about 3 percent, compared to just over 5 percent on Aug. 5.  

ADVERTISEMENT

While we do not know where these reticent supporters were being recorded (for example, listed as supporting a third-party candidate or as unsure of who they support), if they were listed as Biden supporters, their impact as hidden Trump supporters would be twice as large. This is because of the zero-sum nature of each vote going to Trump also would be deducted from Biden. So, the range of Trump’s benefit relative to Biden from hidden supporters could be anywhere from 3 percent to 5 percent.   

Either way, in a tight race such an impact would be huge. Remember that in 2016, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhat Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death MORE by 2 percent. However, Trump still won the electoral vote and the presidency. A hidden 3 percent of Trump supporters would erase Clinton’s 2016 margin and Biden’s current lead in Real Clear Politics’s battleground average. A hidden 5 percent of Trump supporters would push Real Clear Politics’s national average into a dead-heat.  

The left have brought the hidden Trump supporter problem on themselves. By “villainizing” Trump supporters, they have made a dangerously high percentage invisible. Despite intending to avoid Clinton’s 2016 mistake of misappropriating her resources, they may be recreating it unintentionally for Biden’s campaign.  

Democrats could find themselves, again, failing to target the voters they need to shore up. This time it could be more than just blue states they miss, but blue constituencies. The key is that Biden’s campaign cannot know where hidden Trump supporters are.  

To top it off, the hidden Trump supporter problem could grow for the left. The left’s violent outbursts are getting worse, or at least less ignorable. The left clearly seems intent in going in that direction or unable to stop it. As incidents get worse, more coverage, or both, they could drive even more Trump supporters underground.    

A hidden Trump supporter phenomenon in 2020 could be no less dramatic than the president’s 2016 upset. It could also have an even bigger political impact if those hidden voters also vote Republican down-ballot — something they are much more likely to do now that Trump is fully associated with the party, and not just its surprise nominee. Ironically, while Trump may be the man they most want to beat, the left may find in November that instead they have beaten themselves.  

J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987 through 2000.