Today’s post is at the Stream: Are Polls Underestimating Trump’s True Support?
The press in 1980 did their best to scupper Ronald Reagan. They said he was an “extremist” and that he would “would divide America along racial, religious, and regional lines”. They said Reagan was a “dangerous cowboy” with his finger on the nuclear button. They seethed, raged, insinuated.
The Republican establishment joined in the calumnies. The strain on party brotherhood was so bad that after the primaries, one-time Republican candidate John Anderson split from the party and ran as a NeverReagan.
It was thus unfashionable to admit liking Reagan, and so not a few kept their mouths shut.
Presidential polls might have reflected this Reagan shyness. In the month before the election, polls had Carter up an average 44% to Reagan’s 40%. Anderson hovered around 9%, which left about 7% of voters unaccounted for. Were some of these 7% shy Reagan voters?
The final averages right before the election gave Reagan the edge, 47% to Carter’s 44% and Anderson’s 8%. That left only 1% unaccounted for.
The final tallies gave Reagan 51% of the popular vote, Carter 41%, and Anderson 7%, with the remaining 1% spread over novelty candidates.
There is a huge discrepancy here. Polls showed Reagan with 4% less support than he actually had, and Carter with 3% more and Anderson 1% more. These errors could have been caused by Reagan supporters unwilling to tell pollsters their true preference, but they also could have been because of built-in biases of the polls themselves. These biases should not surprise given that many polls are conducted or commissioned by mainstream media outlets, whose sins and biases do not need recounting.
At this writing most polls show Hillary nearly tied with Trump, yet there is a suspicion that, like in 1980, some voters are shy about admitting liking Trump. If this is so, the polls exaggerate Hillary’s true support.
Is anybody who is for Trump coy? If so, how many secret supporters are there? Or are the polls biased?…
Go there to read the rest. And speculate below on how much you think the polls will shift after tonight’s debate.