Support for Donald Trump May Be Even Stronger Than It Appears

A new poll from Quinnipiac shows Donald Trump up 4 percent over his nearest opponent. Another poll from Fox claims that Trump is 21 percent over the nearest G.O.P. candidate. 

Yet another one from Public Policy Polling claimsthat Trump leads by 16 points. At the very least, his opponents believe, that’s less than a third of Republican voters.

For party elites, Trump’s rise has been an embarrassment, while his staying power has grown increasingly concerning. Now, a new study gives G.O.P. leaders another reason to worry: What if Trump’s support is even stronger than his polls show?

That’s the takeaway from a new study that suggests voters who participate in phone or in-person surveys are too embarrassed to admit that they support Trump. According to Morning Consult, a polling-and-data-science firm, Trump’s favorability rating rose by at least 6 points, from 32 to 38, when the surveys were conducted online with no pollster to judge them.

Moreover, many of those silent Trump supporters are highly educated: among potential voters with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the G.O.P. front-runner performed 10 percent better online than he did in live telephone polls.
Support for Donald Trump May Be Even Stronger Than It Appears
Bloomberg points out that it’s possible that this poll is bleaker than necessary: online polls are notoriously unreliable, and the Trump-favoring constituency historically has poor voter turnout.

Still, the Morning Consult study proves that the psychological effect known as “social desirability” is at work in the Republican electorate, polling analyst Ken Goldstein notes, meaning that people are too “embarrassed” to admit they would vote for Trump. “It probably means [his support is] understated when you go into the sanctity of a secret ballot,” he observed.

Donald Trump is fond of saying that his supporters constitute a "silent majority" of Americans fed up with political correctness and business as usual. The possibility that those words represent an actual voting bloc, and not just another campaign catchphrase, ought to terrify a Republican establishment that continues to hope, against increasing odds, that Trump can’t win. Vanity Fair

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