Two Pollsters Who Called 2016 Make Huge Prediction: ‘People Are Going To Be Shocked’


Two pollsters who predicted President Donald Trump would win in 2016 are warning Americans that national polls showing Democrat Joe Biden with a lead over the president should be taken with a grain of salt.

“There’s a lot of hidden Trump votes out there. Will Biden win the popular vote? Probably. I’m not even debating that. But I think Trump is likely to have an Electoral College victory,” Robert Cahaly, a Republican pollster with the Trafalgar Group, whose 2016 surveys correctly predicted Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and North Carolina would all end up in the Trump column, told Politico.

Cahaly predicted that when the results are in, “People are going to be shocked. A lot of people are going to vote this year who have been dormant or low-propensity voters. I think it’s going to be at an all-time high.”

As Hillary Clinton found in 2016, winning the popular vote on the strength of vast numbers in deep-blue California and New York was a hollow triumph when Trump won the electoral vote.

Comments from Arie Kapteyn, a Dutch economist who oversees the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research and whose pre-Election Day polling in 2016 predicted a Trump popular vote victory, suggest Trump loyalists who fly under the radar of social judgment could make a big difference in the voting.

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Kapteyn noted that his 2016 prediction was flawed, because although Trump won, Kapteyn’s polling had projected a popular vote victory.

“This year, both men believe that polls could again be undercounting Trump’s support,” Politico reported. “The reason is ‘shy’ Trump voters — people reluctant to share their opinions for fear of being judged.”

Cahaly said many Trump voters defy pollsters’ stereotypes.

“The models of who’s going to turn out this year are very flawed. What type of person comes out for Trump? They’re not a normal election participant. They’re a low-propensity voter. We included them in all of our surveys in fall 2016, and we are including them now,” he said.

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The notion that voters will spill their inner thoughts to a pollster is ludicrous, Cahaly added.

“We live in a country where people will lie to their accountant, they’ll lie to their doctor, they’ll lie to their priest. And we’re supposed to believe they shed all of that when they get on the telephone with a stranger?” he said.

With Trump voters under attack by large segments of society, Cahaly indicated reluctance to publicly identify as a Trump backer has increased since 2016.

“In 2016, the worst being said about Trump voters is that they were ‘deplorable.’ 2020 is a whole different ballgame. It is worse this time — significantly worse. This year had more things where you can get punished for expressing an opinion outside the mainstream than almost any year I can think of in modern history,” he said.

“I’m finding that people are very hesitant” to share their support for Trump, he said, noting that in the current political climate, “It’s people getting beat up for wearing the wrong hat, people getting harassed for having a sticker on their car. People just do not want to say anything.”

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Kapteyn said his approach has been to ask those being surveyed what they think their friends and neighbors would do at the polls.

“We actually get a 10-point lead, nationally, for Biden over Trump” in direct questioning, he said. “But if you look at the ‘social-circle’ question, Biden only gets like a 5- or 6-point lead.

“In general — and certainly on the phone — people may still be a little hesitant to say to that they’re Trump voters,” he said.

Kapteyn said the era of open expressions of “different” political beliefs may be at an end.

“The only point I would make is that it seems that over the years, increasingly, political preferences are localized,” he said.

“One county, one area is safe Democratic; the other area is Republican. If you’re in the minority — you’re a Democrat in a Republican area, or a Republican in a Democratic area — civil political discussions have sort of ceased to exist. People become careful in expressing their political preference if they feel that their whole neighborhood has a different opinion.”

Cahaly, meanwhile, said he expects Trump to win.

“There’s a lot of hidden Trump votes out there. Will Biden win the popular vote? Probably. I’m not even debating that. But I think Trump is likely to have an Electoral College victory,” he said.

But Kapteyn wasn’t too sure.

“I will be really surprised, given our own numbers, if there isn’t a very sizable gap between Biden and Trump in the popular vote — in favor of Biden,” he told Politico.

“But in the states? I don’t know.”

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