Think back to last year’s election in Britain, where the Tory Party ran well ahead of its polls on election day. The explanation for the polling gap was the existence of a large number of “shy Tories”—people who sided with the Conservative Party, but didn’t want to admit this to pollsters for a variety of reasons, the main one being an even more suffocating atmosphere of political correctness and media bias than we have here.
And then ask yourself how many taxi drivers are routinely polled. I don’t want to go all Tom Friedman here by making too much of Taxicab Epistemology, but I sure hear a lot of stories of people saying their latest taxi ride featured a strongly pro-Trump driver.
So then there’s this, from Tom Edsall’s column in the NY Times over the weekend:
In a detailed analysis of phone versus online polling in Republican primaries, Kyle A. Dropp, the executive director of polling and data science at Morning Consult, writes:
Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters.
This difference, Dropp notes, is driven largely by more educated voters — those who would be most concerned with “social desirability.”
These findings suggest that Trump will head into the general election with support from voters who are reluctant to admit their preferences to a live person in a phone survey, but who may well be inclined to cast a ballot for Trump on Election Day. . .
I asked a number of experts about the disparity between online and phone polls. All of them — Alan Abramowitz, John Sides, Michael Tesler and Lynn Vavreck, political scientists who specialize in the analysis of poll data — agreed that in the case of highly contentious issues, respondents can be more willing to express their real views anonymously, to a computer rather than to a human.
Given the recent polls showing the race within the margin of error, especially in key states, I wonder if Trump might actually be ahead of Hillary right now.