I noticed something odd the other day driving through my neighborhood in the Virginia hills not far from Washington, D.C., (for the record, voters in my county went for President Trump over Hillary Clinton 59.1% to 34.7% in 2016).
There wasn’t a Trump sign in sight. Not one. Four years ago, they were all over, everywhere. This time around, zero.
Which brings up an interesting notion: Are there secret Trump supporters out there, people who back the president but just don’t want to put up a yard sign or talk politics at the neighborhood barbecue?
We all know most of the polls are really bad for Mr. Trump.
In the latest average from Real Clear Politics, which keeps a running tally of all national polls, Joe Biden leads Mr. Trump by 7.2 percentage points. And the two most recent polls in the list have the former vice president up by double digits, one by 10 points, the other by 13.
The state-by-state polls are just as grim. Here are six top swing states:
• Arizona — Biden +3.7;
• Florida — Biden +4.0;
• Michigan — Biden +7.5;
• North Carolina — Biden +4.6;
• Pennsylvania — Biden +4.7;
• Wisconsin — Biden +5.0.
But is it all as bad as it seems? Maybe not. A recent survey found that there may be “secret Trump supporters” in at least one swing state who could tilt the election toward the president on Nov. 3.
The poll by Monmouth University of 401 Pennsylvania voters found that a majority of voters think there are Trump supporters out there who aren’t being counted. “The media consistently reports that Biden is in the lead, but voters remember what happened in 2016. The specter of a secret Trump vote looms large in 2020,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
“Most voters (57%) believe there are a number of so-called secret voters in their communities who support Trump but won’t tell anyone about it. Less than half that number (27%) believe there are secret voters for Biden. The suspicion that a secret Trump vote exists is slightly higher in swing counties (62%) and Clinton counties (61%) than in Trump counties (51%),” the pollsters wrote.
Meanwhile, Trump campaign officials think polls showing Mr. Biden with a big lead are the result of undercounting Republican voters — some of whom may not be vocal supporters of Mr. Trump this time around.
“They get some of these people who say they have no opinion or are undecided when they really are Trump supporters,” a Trump campaign insider, who did not want to be identified without authorization from the campaign, told The Washington Times. “The big thing the polls are doing is just under-representing Republicans, and it’s blatant.”
The polls are skewed in favor of Democrats, some Republicans say. For instance, a national poll released last week by Economist/YouGov showed the unweighted polling sample of those surveyed was 41% independents, 34.7% Democrats and 24.2% Republicans. Another poll by ABC News/Washington Post used a similar sample — 39% independents, 30% Democrats and 24% Republicans.
The Trump campaign insider told The Times that finding hidden Trump voters is difficult, noting that some Republicans “would not offer their positive opinion of the president until they realized they were in a friendly crowd.”
“Probably because they’re used to keeping their opinions to themselves,” the insider said. “They are out there.”
Remember, too, that pollsters blew it big last time around. For instance, on Election Day 2016, at 10:41 a.m., pollster Nate Silver posted a story on his website FiveThirtyEight.
“Final Election Update: There’s A Wide Range Of Outcomes, And Most Of Them Come Up Clinton,” said his headline.
Mr. Silver said his “forecast has Clinton favored in states and congressional districts totaling 323 electoral votes, including all the states President Obama won in 2012 except Ohio and Iowa, but adding North Carolina.” He hedged his bet a bit, though, saying Mrs. Clinton could lose North Carolina or Florida especially, so “the average number of electoral votes we forecast for Clinton is 302.”
Mrs. Clinton lost both (North Carolina by a lot, 3.8%). She also lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In the end, she got crushed in the Electoral College, 304-227.
Mr. Silver in June came out with a brand new prediction: A “Biden landslide is possible.”
But the notion behind the secret Trump voter is simple: With the media bashing the president daily — going so far as to call him, and by extension his supporters, racist — some don’t want to face the scorn of supporting him.
My guess is that they’re still out there — and more angry than ever. They may not show up in all the polls, but they will turn up on Election Day to cast their ballots.
Democrats dismiss the secret Trump voters at their peril.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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