Most presidential pollsters blew the call in 2016.
But Trafalgar Group chief pollster Robert Cahaly got it mostly right. His group’s polling in 2016 showed Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan on the eve of the election. Trump won all three, despite most polls saying he would lose the states.
Now, Cahaly says Trump is poised to do it again and will top the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win re-election.
“I see the president winning with a minimum of high 270s and possibly going up significantly higher based on just how big this undercurrent is,” Cahaly said on Fox News.
“What we’ve noticed is that these polls are predominantly missing the hidden Trump vote, what [we] refer to as the shy Trump voter,” he said. “There is a clear feeling among conservatives and people that are for the president that they’re not interested in sharing their opinions so readily on the telephone. We’ve seen people be beat up, harassed, doxed, have their houses torn up because they expressed political opinions that are not in line with the politically correct establishment. And so, these people are more hesitant to … participate in polls. So if you’re not compensating for this, if you’re not trying to give them a poll that they can participate in … you’re not going to get honest answers.”
His hypothesis is supported by polls. A survey in July 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.
The Trafalgar group’s poll of 1,051 likely voters from Oct. 14-16 shows Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin by just over 1 percentage point, 47.5% to 46.3%. Other Trafalgar group polls show Trump ahead of Biden by 1 percentage point in Michigan, 2 points in Florida, and 4 points in both Arizona and Ohio, according to October surveys.
While the Hunter Biden scandal is not on the list of six topics up for discussion at Thursday’s final presidential debate, Cahaly said the issue looms large.
“I think if the president uses it effectively in the debate when a more bipartisan audience is paying attention, and put him on the spot, I think Biden might crack, kind of like he did in the primaries,” Cahaly said. “And if that happens, well, then the mainstream media is going to have to cover it.”
Cahaly said his group conducts surveys in a different way than other pollsters.
“All we focused on was battleground state polls, because when it’s over, in my mind, it’s all about the electoral map and state-by-state Electoral College,” he told Politico last month. “So the big difference was the people they were surveying; and second, and I don’t know who else would agree with this, 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.”