Under the theme of “Suspicions Confirmed” we have a report from the few polling firms who predicted a Trump victory in the US election.
Some intriguing comments from the pollsters are excerpted from the full article Trade Secrets From the Predictors Who Called a Trump Victory at Politico (here). From their results, we can understand the election swung on shy voters who were silent and discounted in the face of social and mass media bullying.
A handful of predictors bucked the crowd and told us something else was going on. One is Helmut Norpoth, a Stony Brook political science professor whose model suggested, all the way back in March, that Donald Trump had between an 87 and 99 percent chance at the presidency. Another is the team behind the USC-Dornsife/LA Times Daybreak poll, which followed a fixed pool of 3,200 respondents every week over the course of the campaign; their final forecast on Election Day had Trump leading 46.8 percent to 43.6 percent. Another was the Trafalgar Group, a Republican consulting firm that conducted surveys using automated phone calls to landline numbers in battleground states. They got Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina right—an achievement few others can claim.
We seem to see in our data that among the people that didn’t vote four years ago, there was definitely more support for Trump than among others. And even these people told us that their likelihood of voting, their self-reported likelihood of voting was lower than for those people who voted four years ago. So, you have this group that’s sort of underrepresented in many polls, and then they go to the polls a little more than expected, and then they’re also more Trump-leaning than expected.
When we went back and looked, we noticed a vast difference between those who voted in the Republican primary this year and those who voted in primaries historically. And it was one-sided [only on the Republican side].
We took that universe of those who have participated in 2006 or previous—we’re talking about people who voted for the last time in the ‘70s, in the ‘80s, in the ‘90s, and earlier 2000s, and we created the term Trump surge voters, and we added them into our call database as well as the newly registered, because in our experience, when people register to vote for the first time, the election that follows is the one that they’re most likely to participate in. So we had a good mix of newly registered voters as well as what we call our Trump surge voters.
So the big difference was the people they were surveying; and second is the fact that taking people on their face for what they were answering was not a smart move, because people were not being forthright as to who they were supporting.
There is some indication that the Trump voters were a little more uncomfortable with telling someone, but there were groups within the Trump voter camp that felt particularly uncomfortable. And one of those groups was women who planned to vote for Trump. And I think the other one—there was another paper that was done recently, it’s also college-educated Trump voters. So, there were just groups that—and I guess Latinos—groups that in the popular press, you know, people would sort of say, “Well, these groups are all going to vote for Clinton.” And, of course, within this group, you have big groups that actually wanted to vote for Trump, but they were the ones that were a little less comfortable with telling someone else.
I grew up in the South and everybody is very polite down here, and if you want to find out the truth on a hot topic, you can’t just ask the question directly. So, the neighbor is part of the mechanism to get that real answer. In the 11 battle ground states, and 3 non-battleground, there was a significant drop-off between the ballot test question [which candidate you support] and the neighbors’ question [which candidate you believe most of your neighbors support]. The neighbors question result showed a similar result in each state: Hillary dropped [relative to the ballot test question] and Trump comes up across every demographic, every geography. Hillary’s drop was between 3 and 11 percent while Trump’s increase was between 3 and 7 percent. This pattern existed everywhere from Pennsylvania to Nevada to Utah to Georgia, and it was a constant.
And so, I don’t accept that there were “shy Hillary voters.” And what we discovered is what he just said about a lot of minorities were shy voters and women were shy voters.
If you ask people that were in the field, that were out there visiting folks, they will tell you this was one of those elections where, yes, there were tons of Trump signs and Hillary signs in yards, but there were many, many millions of people who would have never put a Trump sticker on their car or a sign in their yard that literally could not wait to vote for him.
if you read something like the New York Times or you watch some of the major news shows and network shows, there was sort of a fixed notion that Hillary had this race in hand, that there was just a very difficult path for Trump to get to victory. From what I recall, there was never any notion that something like Pennsylvania or Michigan or Wisconsin would be in play. It was just going to be impossibly close for Trump to pull it off with the states Romney had and the battleground states—and I think that became such a fixed idea about this campaign and they didn’t consider an alternative.
So, I think this was sort of poll-driven, but it probably fed into a notion that Donald Trump was just unpalatable and unimaginable as a candidate. So I mean, this “it shouldn’t happen,” “couldn’t happen” sort of reinforced each other in the coverage on the New York Times and CNN and MSNBC.
We were surprised at how many people thought it was not going to be a Trump win. It was shocking to us the ridicule we were getting. I mean, you look at our Twitter as the election night unfolded, people saying, “You guys weren’t crazy,” just as much as they’ve been saying we were crazy for the three weeks before. There was one guy who simply tweeted us “bullocks” and that night he said, “May I withdraw my bullocks?”
Polling the electorate is a science, as is generating predictions of future climate. In the last US election, pollsters got it wrong as badly as have climatologists in their failed forecasts this century. However, election surveys get immediate and direct feedback from the real world when the votes are counted. Reputations take a hit when you are wrong, and you face reality, change your assumptions and methods, or go out of business. Climate alarmists have yet to see and admit the error of their ways.