The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Feehery: The fog of the election

Getty Images

False positives drive this election.

There are COVID false-positives, which drive up the case counts, close schools, isolate university students, sideline big-time college football coaches.

And then, there is a meta-false positive about who is going to win.

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon hinted at that false positive when she acknowledged that the race is a lot closer than the media polls would have you believe.

As scripture says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”

Soon we will be face to face with the election results.

Here is what we don’t know:

First, how many shy Trump voters are there actually?

We know that supporting Donald Trump publicly can get you expelled from school, fired from your job and attacked by the Twitter mob. We know that putting a Trump yard sign in the wrong neighborhood can yield a rock through your window and putting a Trump sticker on your car can lead to your tires getting slashed.

What we don’t know is how many suburban women who want their kids to go back to school and don’t like the riots that have come to their neighborhoods are secretly going to vote for the president. We don’t know how many African-American men aren’t telling anybody that they secretly liked that the president signed into law criminal justice reform and created the best economy in a generation and are sick and tired of being taken for granted by a Democratic political establishment that has done nothing for them. And we don’t know how many Hispanics are going to vote for Mr. Trump, but we do know it will be a higher number than voted Mr. Self-Deporting Mitt Romney.

Robert Cahaly, the lead pollster for the Trafalgar Group, takes this shy voter into account for his polls, and accurately predicted the Trump victory four years ago. He talks about social desirability bias, and let’s face it, voting for Trump is not socially desirable in many neighborhoods. But people vote their interests when they get into the voting booth, not their social status.

Second, while President Trump is an unconventional candidate, he is running a conventional campaign. By that I mean he is running an actual campaign, where his supporters are making actual contacts with voters. He didn’t do this the first time around because he didn’t expect to win the primary and he didn’t really expect to capture the White House. But being an incumbent gives you certain advantages and one of those advantages is having the time to build a sophisticated grassroots operation and having a Republican National Committee that is committed totally to your reelection.

Joe Biden’s campaign is almost entirely virtual. Because of COVID-19, Biden can’t and won’t run a traditional campaign. He can’t and won’t do the big rallies that help to energize the Trump voters. Perhaps in the coronavirus world, Biden has it right. Perhaps his supporters don’t want to be contacted personally. Perhaps they do want to hang out at home and surf the internet tubes. Perhaps that is how his voters will respond. But this is a big experiment in modern politics. If it works, it will be replicated by every campaign going forward. But if it fails (and it could fail spectacularly), it will forever be known as Biden’s blunder.

Finally, there is the money.

The Democrats have way more money than the Republicans. That makes GOP campaign consultants and pollsters very nervous. But truth be told, most of these consultants are voting against Trump anyway, because they see that his brand of politics could make them obsolete.

We have ample precedent for campaigns that had a huge advantage in donations but wound up losing the election. Think Sen. Beto O’Rourke, President Jeb Bush and President Hillary Clinton.

I know the pundit class thinks they can see clearly now that the election is only two weeks away. Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian general, warned of the fog of war. We are ready to enter the fog of this election. I wouldn’t be certain of any outcome at this stage of the game.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).

Tags 2020 presidential election campaign 2020 presidential polls Dennis Hastert Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Mitt Romney

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Campaign News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video