Posted on December 23, 2015

Democrats Should Fear the Depths of Donald Trump’s Support

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post, December 21, 2015


What if Michael Smerconish was right? What if Trump’s numbers are really higher than the polls show because folks are lying to pollsters? What if a Trump vs. Clinton race isn’t a slam dunk for the latter as everyone thinks? Thanks to a study conducted by Kyle Dropp, co-founder and executive director of polling and data science at Morning Consult, we have the frightening answer. Smerconish WAS right!

Dropp interviewed 2,397 registered Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. All the participants started taking part in the survey online. Then things got interesting. While a third of them did the entire survey online, one third answered questions asked by a live person on the phone and the remaining third finished the poll with an automated voice. The result?

“The study finds that Trump performs about six percentage points better online [38 percent] than via live telephone interviewing [32 percent],” writes Dropp, “and that his advantage online is driven by adults with higher levels of education.” That means Trump’s increased support is coming from better educated and wealthier people who appear to be embarrassed to have another living soul know they support Trump. Dropp explains that this is due “in part to ‘social desirability bias,’ in which respondents answer questions in a manner they believe will be viewed favorably by others.”

In other words, people are more inclined not to tell the truth to a pollster if they believe it will make them look bad. {snip}