Trump campaign officials are convinced that polls showing Joseph R. Biden with a big lead are tilted left by undercounting Republican voters and are missing a hidden cache of the president’s supporters who are leery of pollsters.
President Trump and his campaign staff are not under the illusion that he is winning at this stage, but they think the race is much closer than polls suggest, especially in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“They get some of these people who say they have no opinion or are undecided when they really are Trump supporters,” said a Trump campaign insider who did not want to be identified without authorization from the campaign. “The big thing the polls are doing is just underrepresenting Republicans, and it’s blatant.”
The hidden Trump voters, according to the theory, are bullied into silence by the news media’s daily accusations that they are racist or worse. These voters then conceal their support for Mr. Trump for fear of being viewed as racist by the pollsters.
Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign refused to discuss either phenomenon, but they have said they are taking nothing for granted and are doing everything possible to avoid the sort of Election Day that stunned Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The numbers generally bear out claims of lopsided samplings in 2020 surveys.
A national poll released this week by Economist/YouGov showed Mr. Biden, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, with a 9 percentage point advantage over Mr. Trump. The unweighted polling sample was 41% independents, 34.7% Democrats and 24.2% Republicans.
In 2016, Republicans made up 31% of the electorate, similar to their share of turnout in every presidential election since Ronald Reagan won the White House. The 2016 electorate was 35% Democrat, similar to the polling sample, and 34% independent, which is a much smaller share than in the poll.
A national poll by ABC News/Washington Post, which gave Mr. Biden a 10-point lead, used a similar sample of 39% independents, 30% Democrats and 24% Republicans.
The Real Clear Politics average of national polls, which includes the Economist/YouGov and the ABC News/Washington Post surveys, shows Mr. Biden ahead of Mr. Trump by 8.4 points.
The same Economist/YouGov poll recorded Republicans giving Mr. Trump an 87% approval rating.
Democratic political operatives and pollsters dismiss discrepancies in the samples as inconsequential or reflective of likely turnout this year.
“Republicans are whistling past the graveyard when they criticize current polling,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “There are fewer Republicans in the samples, but that’s because the president has turned off so many voters over the last three-plus years.”
Some of these voters emerged in recent focus groups conducted by the Trump campaign in which the participants were grouped according to party affiliation, said the campaign insider.
Members of the Democratic groups would quickly offer their disapproval of the president, but some members of the Republican groups ... (Read more)
Submitted 56 days ago