Shy Tories helped the Conservative Party to an unexpected outright victory in the 2015 general election in Britain, while some say that “shy Brexiteers” helped to push the UK out of the European Union. Are shy Trump supporters now about to help elect Donald Trump president of the United States?
The progressive Mother Jones magazine has just sent its readers a panicked bulletin asking them whether or not they would “secretly vote for Trump”.
Given the left-wing readership of Mother Jones, it is a safe bet that very few people will respond in the affirmative, but the mere fact that Mother Jones and their partners the Progressive Turnout Project are asking the question at all tells us something very interesting: that American leftists and Democrats are terrified that the polls may be deceiving them and that their progressive dream might be undone in November by the “shy Trumpist” factor.
From the email (their emphasis is bold):
Political experts believe that a shocking number of voters are secretly supporting Trump — but are ashamed to voice their support publicly.
This is evidenced by the fact that Trump continues to perform better in online polls than in phone polls.
Nate Silver recently ran a national presidential poll and the results were SHOCKING:
In telephone polls — where the respondent is asked to disclose their preference to a live person — Hillary Clinton is polling at 86%. But in online and robo polls, Hillary polls 15% LOWER, at 71%.
Researchers speculate that this discrepancy is due to the fact that many respondents simply are embarrassed to admit they’re voting for Trump.
The truth is, the Trump campaign agrees this is happening.
They’re counting on a large number of ‘silent’ voters to come out in droves on Election Day and carry Donald Trump to victory.
We can’t let that happen.
The New York Times reported on the same phenomenon back in May:
There is also strong evidence that most traditional public opinion surveys inadvertently hide a segment of Trump’s supporters. Many voters are reluctant to admit to a live interviewer that they back a candidate who has adopted such divisive positions.
In matchups between Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump does much better in polls conducted online, in which respondents click their answers on a computer screen, rather than in person-to-person landline and cellphone surveys.
An aggregation by RealClearPolitics of 10 recent telephone polls gives Clinton a nine-point lead over Trump. In contrast, the combined results for the YouGov and Morning Consult polls, which rely on online surveys, place Clinton’s lead at four points.
Why is this important? Because an online survey, whatever other flaws it might have, resembles an anonymous voting booth far more than what you tell a pollster does.
[..] In a detailed analysis of phone versus online polling in Republican primaries, Kyle A. Dropp, the executive director of polling and data science at Morning Consult, writes “Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters”.
This difference, Dropp notes, is driven largely by more educated voters — those who would be most concerned with “social desirability.”
The simple fact that Trump has beaten the odds so far means that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he could beat them again. If he does take the White House, much, if not all, of his margin of victory will come from voters too ashamed to acknowledge publicly how they intend to cast their vote.
But is this really likely to happen in America? Well, the “shy Tory” factor is certainly real and has been proven in election after election in Britain, with the Guardian recently lamenting:
“Well hung” was the headline on the Sun’s front page, while the Guardian ran with “It couldn’t be closer”. The polls were predicting Labour and the Conservatives were neck-and-neck, but they couldn’t have been more wrong.
All of the polls significantly underestimated the Tories, and they were strikingly consistent in how wrong they were. Populus put Labour one point ahead, BMG, Survation, YouGov and polling by the Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft all predicted a tie. Opinium predicted a one-point lead for the Tories, as did ComRes and Ipsos Mori.
So when the exit polls just after 10pm predicted 316 seats for the Tories – up nine seats from 2010 – and Labour a devastating 239 seats, with the Lib Dems obliterated to just 10 and the SNP winning all but one seat in Scotland, many could not believe it was true.
[..] The same excuses are being floated this time as were used in 1992: changing methods of polling, “shy Tories” who did not want to admit they were voting for John Major, and a very late swing of undecideds.
While during the EU referendum campaign, this blog weighed in on the “shy eurosceptic” phenomenon:
So what are we dealing with here? It’s the same factor which makes otherwise confident, extroverted people drop their voices to a hushed and conspiratorial whisper when discussing their conservative political leanings in an elite (or creative/artistic) workplace,or makes a school teacher think twice before openly contradicting the biased, anti-Tory ranting of their colleagues.
But it is more than simply avoiding hassle. For many people, not only the elites, it is also a case of seeking to avoid very tangible real-world consequences of being known to hold unfashionable opinions – the threat of public ridicule, professional censure or even job loss, simply for committing thought-crime.
Maybe nobody will care if you fail to join in the joking with your colleagues when they laugh about Nigel Farage or mock those knuckle-dragging Little Englanders who want to pull up the drawbridge on Fortress Britain. But maybe they will notice, and maybe it might lead to an awkward question: “Wait a minute, you can’t seriously support those racists, can you? You’re having a laugh, right?” Far easier to just go along with the crowd. Why risk antagonising the boss, or the people you sit next to every day? Why risk that upcoming promotion? Better just stay silent.
[..] There are many social settings – mostly where the social, academic or artistic elites live and work – where expressing a eurosceptic opinion or declaring one’s support for Brexit is tantamount to reading aloud from Mein Kampf in the town square. But conversely, there are no equivalent places or scenarios where one might reasonably expect to be actively persecuted for expressing pro-EU sentiments.
Goodness knows just how many secretly anti-illegal-immigration, vaguely nationalist, protectionist authoritarians there are lurking in the enclaves of America’s coastal elites. But whether they are a handful or a small army, you can bet that they will be keeping quiet about their political preferences. Why invite public ridicule, social isolation and all of the other negative consequences of a political climate which has seen Hillary Clinton describe half of Donald Trump supporters as “deplorable” racists, and in which people like them are used as daily cannon fodder on channels like MSNBC?
It is certainly the case in Britain that many people simply dare not express their perfectly mainstream and legitimately held conservative opinions because of the toxic and hateful anti-Tory, anti-Brexit hysteria whipped up by the permanently outraged Left, who insist on seeing evil rather than mere political disagreement. And this culture is certainly no more harmonious or respectful in the United States. Therefore it follows quite reasonably that there may be a mass of voters, unimpressed with President Obama’s two terms of office and with deep concerns over Hillary Clinton, who find themselves in the unexpected position of preferring Donald Trump but are unable to confess their thoughtcrime to friends, family or pollsters.
And then again, maybe not. That’s the awkward thing about these “shy voter” phenomena – they seem so obvious the day after an election, but are almost impossible to pin down before polling day thanks to their tendency to lie to pollsters.
But if I was a Hillary Clinton-supporting progressive, I would not be taking any chances. And I would start asking myself whether the pleasurable short-term catharsis of denouncing all Donald Trump supporters as selfish, evil and ignorant is worth the risk of driving even more of his supporters underground, beyond the influence of both Democratic Party outreach and out of reliable communication with opinion pollsters.
Unfortunately, most American leftists don’t seem to have gotten the message yet. Here’s Jonathan Chait, making himself look smart at the expense of making things even worse:
Following the classic definition of a gaffe as a politician telling the truth, Hillary Clinton’s comment about Donald Trump’s supporters (“just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’ Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it”) was the purest and most classic example. The national media has spent a year and a quarter documenting in exquisite, redundant detail the rabid, anti-intellectual nationalistic bigotry of Trump’s hard-core fanbase. But it has taken Hillary Clinton’s affirmation to transform this by-now-banal observation into a scandal.
[..] Clinton controversially described half of Trump’s supporters as “irredeemable.” Trump earlier this year framed the same idea in a more colorful and perhaps more damning way: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Both statements reflect the same underlying truth: Trump enjoys a hard-core support that lies beyond persuasion, utterly immune to even the starkest factual evidence. Clinton committed a gaffe because she acknowledged a reality that literally every other person in America, including Donald Trump himself, is permitted to speak aloud.
Keep on laughing, strutting and preening if you must, American liberals.
I just hope that today’s feeling of smug superiority does not warp into the numb disbelief of defeat when the half of the country that you so love to demonise ends up delivering Donald J Trump to the White House.
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You were 100% right!
Wow, so I was. I must admit that I didn’t fully expect that prediction to come true, or for the Shy Trumpist phenomenon to mirror the Shy Brexiteers, but here we are. It happened. And the people who who demonised Trump and his supporters the loudest ultimately helped to make it happen.