A majority of voters in Pennsylvania believe there are “secret” Trump voters in their communities who support the president but keep it to themselves, according to a new Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday.
The survey of registered voters found Democrat Joseph R. Biden holding a 13-point lead over President Trump, 53% to 40%. Pollsters said the Democrat’s lead among likely voters ranges from 7 to 10 points, depending on the expected turnout level.
But many Pennsylvania residents remember that polls in 2016 also showed Mr. Trump losing in the state that he ended up winning by a narrow margin over Hillary Clinton. And the new poll shows about half of voters believe Mr. Trump could again benefit from what his campaign advisers call “hidden” Trump voters.
In the survey, 57% of registered voters “believe there are a number of so-called secret voters in their communities who support Trump but won’t tell anyone about it,” the pollster said. Less than half that number, 27%, believe there are secret voters for Mr. Biden.
“The media consistently reports that Biden is in the lead, but voters remember what happened in 2016,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The specter of a secret Trump vote looms large in 2020.”
Despite the former vice president’s lead, Monmouth said, “voters are evenly divided on who they think will win the Keystone State’s electoral votes this year as a majority believe that their communities hold a number of ‘secret Trump voters.’ “
Trump campaign officials have said that in 2016, voters who didn’t necessarily like Mr. Trump but voted for him anyway accounted for as much as 20% of the president’s support in some states.
The president said on Tuesday that his “silent majority” is with him again this year.
“I think that the enthusiasm now is greater — and maybe far greater — than it was in 2016,” Mr. Trump said when asked about his trailing Mr. Biden in polls. “I think a lot of people don’t want to talk about it. I think they’re not going to say, ‘Hey, I’m for Trump. I’m for Trump.’ They don’t want to go through the process. And I fully understand that, because the process is not fair. The media doesn’t treat us fairly. They never have, and perhaps they never will.”
The Monmouth survey found that suspicion of secret Trump voters is slightly higher in swing counties (62%) and counties won by Mrs. Clinton in 2016 (61%) than in Trump counties (51%).
The belief in a secret Biden vote is somewhat more prevalent in Trump counties (32%) than Clinton counties (23%) and swing counties (23%), Monmouth said.
Mr. Biden is performing strongest in the state’s 10 “swing” counties, according to the survey.
“The good news for Biden is that he hits the magic 50% mark in all the turnout models and far fewer voters are considering a third-party candidate than four years ago,” Mr. Murray said. “This suggests somewhat more stability in the numbers, but there are also signs that Biden has not pulled clearly ahead of Trump on some key metrics.”
Mr. Biden has the advantage among voters under 50 years old (60% to 29%), as well as voters age 65 and older (52% to 42%). Mr. Trump has an edge among voters between 50 and 64 years old (56% to 43%), the survey found.