Polls Show Your Neighbor Is Voting for Trump

Unorthodox survey suggests support for GOP nominee grows when self-consciousness not a factor

by Jim Stinson | Updated 02 Nov 2016 at 8:24 PM

Two polls in key swing states show most people think their neighbor is going to vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

It’s a sign Trump’s share of the vote is being underestimated, Robert Cahaly, senior strategist for the Trafalgar Group of Atlanta that conducted the unorthodox survey, told LifeZette.

“The hidden vote usually breaks conservative.”

The Republican consulting firm says its findings in Ohio and Florida show Trump winning by slim margins. But when respondents are asked about who they think their neighbor is voting for, it isn’t even close. It’s for Trump.

Basically, this means Trump’s share of the vote is more likely in between the winning number Trafalgar Group found and the even higher “neighbor” numbers, Cahaly said.

Cahaly says the “neighbors” numbers back up the “shy Tory” theory — that respondents are shy about saying they will vote for a candidate or cause that has been tagged as racist or distasteful by the media and popular culture. The most recent case was the British exit from the European Union, or “Brexit,” as it is called.

Pollsters had predicted that British voters would stay in the E.U. Instead, they chose Brexit.

Now, Cahaly says, voters are indicating Trump, but some are suggesting they are neutral, while acknowledging — vicariously though their neighbor — that they will vote for Trump.

"I believe that demonstrates that there are still people indicating they are uncomfortable saying they will vote for [Trump], but will say that their neighbor will vote for him," said Cahaly on Wednesday.

That means the person on the phone, speaking live to a pollster, is shy. But that person will likely vote for Trump.

"The hidden vote usually breaks conservative," said Cahaly.

In Ohio, in a poll of 1,150 respondents, Trafalgar found that Trump was leading 49 percent to 44 percent among likely voters. But when asked who the neighbors were voting for, 55 percent of respondents said their neighbors were voting for Trump. Only 37 percent said their neighbors would back Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Ohio poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9 percent.

In Florida, Trafalgar found Trump with 49 percent of the vote, and Clinton with 45 percent of the vote in the traditional ballot test.

But 52 percent of Floridians think most of their neighbors will vote for Trump. Only 41 percent of Floridians believe their neighbors will vote for Clinton.

The Florida poll had 1,150 likely voter respondents and a margin of error of 2.9 percent.

Both polls were conducted between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31, so news of the relaunched FBI investigation began to work into the numbers. On Friday, the FBI said it would look anew at emails found on the laptop of Huma Abedin, Clinton's top aide.

Clinton used a private server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. The FBI closed the investigation on July 5 but then reopened it when they discovered new emails on Abedin's laptop.

Cahaly says he saw movement before the FBI announcement to Congress. He said the biggest impact in the aftermath of the announcement would likely be reticent Republicans finally rallying behind Trump.

"The FBI thing leads [Republicans] home," said Cahaly.

Cahaly said he believes his numbers bear out the notion of the "silent majority." He said automated calls are being underestimated, because people feel freer to answer honestly to a robotic voice.

But pollsters should be wary of drawing too many inferences this year, said Jack Pitney, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College in California.

Demonstrating shy voters is a hard task, Pitney believes.

"It's almost impossible to say, because the only way to check a poll is to take another poll," said Pitney. "I kind of doubt [the neighbor theory]."

Pitney said the cliché is true: The best poll is the one on Election Day.

But Cahaly said that Republicans in particular are wary of who is calling them, asking for information of how they vote. Automated polls make them feel a little better, but there are still shy voters.

So the neighbor question alleviates some of that apprehension, he said.

Cahaly said he is polling battleground states, and is seeing similar results. When asked about Wednesday polls showing opposite results in Florida, Cahaly said he looks forward to Election Day to compare results.

He agrees that Trump has to put together enough electoral votes. But Cahaly still believes a "tsunami" is developing in many swing states — for the man your neighbors are voting for.

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