A term being used by certain pollsters is the “shy Trump voter.” It designates voters who plan to vote for Donald Trump but aren’t telling pollsters how they will vote. Some pollsters believe these voters exist, while most pollsters reject the idea.
One writer at FiveThirtyEight said their polling organization “found little sign of shy Trump voters.” Another report from the American Association for Public Opinion Research found no evidence of such voters.
David Catron counters that this is a classic “appeal to ignorance.” In other words, it is the argument that the absence of proof is proof of its absence. He explains that such voters are, by definition, hidden. They rarely answer calls or respond to texts, especially from numbers they don’t recognize.
Even if they do respond to a pollster, they are not likely to be forthcoming. One poll found that “20 percent of registered voters say they are uncomfortable revealing their preferred candidate.” That percentage is much higher when you ask conservatives. A recent Cato Institute poll concluded “that the reluctance of conservatives to share their political views has increased from 70 percent to 77 percent since 2017.”
Next week we will be able to judge how many of these shy Trump voters actually exist. They may be insignificant, or they may reverse current predictions. What we do know is that there seemed to be quite a number of them four years ago.
North Carolina provides a good example. In 2016, Hillary Clinton had a seven-point lead in the last week in October. But Donald Trump won the state by more than three percent. That’s a significant swing in one state. Less dramatic swings also occurred in a number of battleground states.
Polling the electorate is a difficult and complex process. The possibility of hidden voters makes the prediction of next week’s election more difficult than ever.