For all those sipping a cocktail right now in a Manhattan skyscraper, toasting the swift demise of one Donald J. Trump, here’s a fly in your pretentious dirty martini: There are signs that the belligerent billionaire may be doing significantly better in the presidential race than many polls indicate.
New voter registration is surging in several swing states and appears to be lopsided in favor of the Republican Party. Moreover, a recent analysis of absentee ballots in Florida reveals an unprecedented number of low-propensity voters registered this year — presumably to support the outsider candidate (hint: It’s not Hillary Clinton).
“Nobody’s been polling these people, nobody’s been marketing to these people.”
“Republicans have continued gaining ground in recent months in voter registration in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Iowa,” Politico reported last week. In Pennsylvania, more than 85,000 former Democrats have switched to the Republican Party this year. This is nearly three times the number of those who made the opposite switch.
In North Carolina, Politico reported, “Democrats’ voter registration advantage shrunk by 44,000 between June 2015 and May 2016” and their “advantage had dwindled to 641,000″ as of Aug. 13. In Florida, Republicans have added nearly 70,000 voters and the Democrats’ registration advantage has more than halved since 2012.
[lz_bulleted_list title=”Florida Primary Election Absentee Ballots” source=”Tampa Bay Times”]855,000 ballots cast by mail by Aug. 25|Over 25% from voters who didn’t vote in the last 4 elections|20% from voters who voted in 1 of the last 4 elections|New primary voters include 90,000 Republicans[/lz_bulleted_list]
Data from Florida also suggests this election could see an unprecedented turnout of first-time or second-time voters. In examining absentee ballots for the upcoming Florida Senate primary election, the Florida Chamber of Commerce discovered “a huge spike in mail voting by people who rarely vote in primary elections,” the Tampa Bay Times reported.
According to the report, nearly half of the mail ballots returned for the primary election are from those who voted in one or fewer of the last four primary elections. “We’re in unprecedented, uncharted territory,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson. “Nobody’s been polling these people, nobody’s been marketing to these people.”
No one has been polling these people — and these people may very well decide the election. This is one of the reasons why most of the polls which have shown Trump losing in a landslide are not to be trusted — most polling companies reach out to those who are historically politically active, not those who are historically apathetic.
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Furthermore, many of the polls which paint the most depressing picture for the Trump campaign are heavily weighted toward registered Republicans and Democrats, when in reality most registered American voters are independent — and independent voters appear to lean Trump. A recent Emerson poll for example found that Trump leads independents in Ohio by 47 percent to 30 percent, 39 percent to 38 percent in Michigan, and 43 percent to 37 percent in Pennsylvania. Some studies have also indicated that Trump consistently performs better in anonymous, online polls, suggesting that he has stronger support than many traditional polls seem to indicate.
“We saw the commentariat and we saw the polling industry doing everything they could to demoralize our campaign,” Brexit proponent Nigel Farage told a crowd of jubilant Trump supporters last week. They may very well be doing the same thing in the U.S. But even within polling industry weighted in Clinton’s favor, there are signs she’s slipping. A new Monmouth poll released Monday showed Clinton’s lead sinking to only 7 points over Trump.
“This is huge,” said Marian Johnson, an expert on Florida politics and the senior vice president of political strategy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, of the Florida absentee ballot revelations.
“I can envision election night when the votes are counted that certain people win that nobody thought had a chance, and that being attributed to this trend.” Right now nobody — well, nobody in the commentariat, anyway — thinks Trump has a chance. They could be wrong.