Saturday, October 29, 2016
The Myth of the "Shy" Trump Voter
As we approach the final days of this gut-wrenching, stomach-churning presidential campaign, some Republicans are blasting the polls, accusing them of missing what they refer to as "shy" Trump voters. These are people who intend on voting for Trump but who are just too "shy" to say so in an opinion poll. To hear them put it, these shy folks will make their voices heard on election day and carry Trump across the finish line.
While I realize that there are some people who are reluctant to tell a pollster who they might vote for, the very idea that there is such a thing as a "shy" Trump voter is laughable. It is the very definition of an oxymoron. If there's been one constant throughout this election, it's that Trump supporters have been anything but shy. Indeed, they've been extremely outspoken in their support of the GOP nominee. Trump, himself, in a moment of candor, admitted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and not lose any of his supporters. If that's what shy looks like, I'd hate to see what brash looks like.
Face it, the polls, if anything, have been remarkably accurate throughout this campaign and for both parties. During the Democratic primaries, we heard some Bernie supporters complain that they were being under sampled. As it turns out, the sampling rate wasn't the problem for Sanders; it was a lack of votes.
The same was true during the Republican primaries. Trump, very early on, became the front runner in virtually all the polls. It was the pundits who didn't believe what the polls were saying, not the polls themselves, that turned out to be the problem. Even reliable statisticians like Nate Silver were taken by surprise over the popularity of Trump among his supporters.
But now in a general election, with a much more diverse electorate, Trump's poll numbers just haven't been as strong. He still has a solid base that has not abandoned him, even throughout all his scandals, but he has been stuck in the high 30s to mid 40s since the conventions. The closest he's gotten to a tie in this race was in mid September when he pulled to within a point of Clinton in the RCP average.
If you'll recall that was immediately after Clinton's near collapse during the 9/11 memorial service. Trump, for his part, had managed to go several weeks without a major mishap, thanks largely to the advice he was getting from his then new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. For the first time possibly in his life, Trump was listening to someone who could help him and the results were clearly visible.
Then came the first debate against Clinton, which he lost badly, followed by his tweet storm against a beauty pageant contestant. Soon after came the infamous Access Hollywood tape and the wheels came completely off. His poll numbers tanked and he went into conspiracy mode, claiming the system and the election were being rigged against him.
The only one rigging anything in this election is Donald Trump. He has managed to make a mockery of the entire election process of this country. He has riled up his base to such a fever pitch that if he loses in November, he will have set the stage for the greatest Constitutional crisis this nation has seen in its history.
The truth is his supporters aren't shy; they simply don't represent the majority of voters in the country. In 1968, Richard Nixon was successfully able to employ what he called a Southern strategy to help him win the presidency. That strategy depended largely on ginning up fears within the white population that their country was being taken from them.
Donald Trump is trying to replicate the Nixon strategy. Unfortunately for him, this electorate looks nothing like the one in 1968.