(Disclaimer and TRIGGER WARNING: There is not much Anglicanism in this post but mainly political analysis that some may find unpleasant. See my post yesterday for more explanation.)
Opinion polls have (Anglican Understatement Alert) limited usefulness this far out from an election. But a current odd phenomenon is that while most polls show Trump behind potential Democrat nominees, Democrats sure are not acting like it as one wag has noticed.
Gosh, it's almost as if they don't put any faith in all those media polls that show every other Dem candidate beating Trump in the general election https://t.co/3eLwZFRDqT— John Hayward (@Doc_0) February 19, 2020
I suspect even Democrats know there is a Shy Trump Voter phenomenon about. This, of course, is a variant of the Shy Tory phenomenon: some who vote Tory will not tell pollsters they are so doing. Polls have thereby understated Tory support in past elections. This has been seen in other elections as well. When I lived in North Carolina, I noticed Jesse Helms always did better in elections than polls indicated.
Shy right-of-center voters occur not because they are more prone to lying or dissembling or that they are ashamed of their political choices, as much as some Leftists may like so to think. In a number of circumstances, letting it be known that one intends to vote for a right-of-center candidate invites social disapproval, even rejection, getting flack, or worse, including “cancelling”. Yes, there are surely circumstances in which letting it be known that one intends to vote for a Lib/Left candidate invites grief, but that is far more often the case for conservative voters. For many Leftists have a totalitarian streak that is less than tolerant toward political opponents.
In the U. S., openly supporting Trump can harm one’s career in a number of fields. Wearing a red MAGA cap or just a red cap risks getting smacked upside the head and worse in several cities. Besides that, some people would rather not be defamed as RACIST or the like. They might even want to keep friends and family on good terms; imagine that. With not all Trump supporters desiring political combat on a toxic battlefield, it is to be expected that there is a significant Shy Trump Voter factor in this election and the accompanying polls.
Bret Stephens, no Trump supporter, is on to this:
…Perhaps the biggest whisper network of all: the one involving inner flashes of sympathy, frequently tipping into support at the ballot box, for President Trump.
Plenty of people are aware of this phenomenon: One recent academic study noted that so-called secret voters supported Trump over Hillary Clinton by a two-to-one (54 percent to 27 percent) margin in 2016. That statistic should be every bit as alarming to Democrats this time around, not least because it suggests that polls may be dramatically underweighting the scale of Trump's support.
Yet beyond the question of why people might want to conceal their voting preferences -- reputation management, social harmony, and so on -- it's worth asking whether the very fact that a vote for Trump was supposed to be shameful is also what made it so attractive. After all, forbidden fruit is appealing not because it is fruit, but because it is forbidden. For every voter who pulled the lever for Trump out of sympathy for his views, how many others did so out of disdain for the army of snickering moralists (at the time including me) telling them that a vote for Trump was unpardonable?
My hunch: probably enough to make the difference in the states that made the difference.
I would also guess that the number has only grown as the censorious left has become more aggressive and promiscuous in its condemnations.
Methinks his hunch and guess is correct.
By the way, I am posting this because I have long found the Shy Tory and related phenomenon interesting. I am not posting this to encourage any complacency on the part of those inclined to vote for Trump. Instead, as I’ve stated after the Impeachment Trial acquittal, it is important that we not merely defeat but punish Democrats in November because they have gone far beyond being mistaken on policy to opposing our Constitutional democracy itself.
Nor do I want Leftists to stop vilifying and harassing us evil racist Trump supporters. Keep up the good “justice work”! You are not reminding us of the importance of defeating you, not at all.
But then if by chance you are so reminding us, many of us will not let you know thanks to your righteous work. The Shy Trump Voter is your creation, you know . . . or don’t know.