Interview with two pollsters who say a Trump win is likely

Originally published at:


I feel like this is a relevant part of Cahaly’s resume:

He has worked campaigns supporting Governors Carroll Campbell, David Beasley, Mike Huckabee, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, and Henry McMaster; US Senators Strom Thurmond, Bob Dole, Tim Scott, and Ben Sasse; and Presidents George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald J.Trump.

So not exactly an ubiased source. Saying “I believe my guy is gonna win!” (at least in public) is pretty much part of the job description for a political strategist.


Well, at least there is a significant number of people who are reluctant to admit they’re voting for Trump.

That’s probably an oversimplification. Maybe both accounts show their real emotions in different contexts, or at different times?


One would expect that info to show up in the Politico article.


Robert Cahaly, founder of The Trafalgar Group:
wiki: They utilize methods to increase the weighting of so called “shy, pro-Trump” voters which they argue to be underrepresented in most polls.



I just Googled the guy to find out if he had a solid track record as a pollster or if the 2016 prediction was a one-off fluke and that was the first result. Maybe there’s something to this prediction and maybe there’s not, but this still feels like lazy journalism from Politico.


Which should have been mentioned in the article, too.


The idea that you can figure out if your guy will win or not through asking people what their neighbors would do when it comes to politically loaded questions and not buying an appliance is dubious at best, and down right foolish. For example… I think all my neighbors will vote Republican, and we’re certainly IN a rural community that maybe trends that way, but our county is run mostly by Democrats. So my neighbors can’t ALL be Republican voters, even if that’s the answer I’d give because I’ve seen one too many pick me ups with confederate flags in the years I’ve live here.

And then there’s that, and the answer becomes clear.


This is a bit like interviewing a Chiefs fan for insight on who is likely to win the next Superbowl on the basis that they correctly predicted who was going to win last time.


I feel like the analysis of this article is pretty solid, including the assessment of Cahaly.

As long as we’re covering things that make Democrats skittish, let’s talk a bit more about the alleged “shy Trump voters.” Yesterday, Politico Magazine published an interview with Arie Kapteyn of the USC/Dornsife Poll, and Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group about that very subject. That duo was chosen because USC/Dornsife and Trafalgar were the most bullish on Donald Trump’s chances in 2016 than any other pollsters, and so were the only ones to get the election “right.”

If you would like a thoughtful assessment of the possibility of “shy” Trump voters, you should read through Kapteyn’s answers to the questions. He acknowledges that USC/Dornsife didn’t actually do all that well in 2016, since they gave the popular vote to Trump by about 3 points, and he lost it by about 2 points, which means a rather sizable five-point error. Kapteyn also acknowledges that the shy Trump effect, if it exists, is very difficult to measure, and that it may or may not have existed in 2016. To the extent that there is evidence of the effect in 2020, he points to the data that he and the folks at USC/Dornsife have collected in response to the “social-circle” question they ask. In short, when people are asked “Who are you voting for?” then Joe Biden comes out ahead by about 10 points. However, when people are asked “Who are your friends and family voting for?” then Biden’s lead drops to about 6 points. The assumption here is that people are more honest when talking about the behavior of others than they are when talking about their own behavior.

As to Cahaly, he’s a partisan hack who is interested in selling his services to Republican politicians. There is nothing he says in the interview that would do anything to cast doubt on that reputation.

For our part, we remain very skeptical that there is any meaningful shy Trump effect. Here are three major reasons:

  1. The existence of any “shy” effect (whether shy Trump effect, or shy Tory effect, or Bradley effect) is hotly debated, since the effect—if it exists or has ever existed—is invariably subtle enough to potentially also be explained by movement within the margin of error.

  2. In 2016, the final national polling average for Hillary Clinton was 46.8% and for Trump was 43.6%, a gap of 3.2%. When the votes were tallied, the final percentages were 48.2% for Clinton and 46.1% for Trump, a gap of 2.1%. Again, that is a very subtle difference, and could easily be explained by movement within the margins of error and/or a late Comey-inspired break toward Trump that was not captured by polls.

  3. The best evidence of a shy Trump effect in 2016 was that he did about 1 point better in Internet polls than he did in telephone polls. The theory here is that people are more likely to lie to a human being than they are to a computer. But even if that theory is correct, there is no equivalent gap in this year’s polls—Internet and telephone polls are producing nearly identical Trump results in 2020.

With all of this said, we wanted to try to find a different way to approach this problem…


and how many Republicans that voted for Trump in 2016 will still vote Republican but NOT vote for Trump in 2020?

How many single issue voters that were waiting until ACB was put on the court now feel their job is done and they can vote for whoever they want?


“There is always money to be made by telling rich people stuff they want to hear. With a little extra if one has some concocted statistics to back it up” --Simon Q Pflughaven


Right, that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach back in October 2016 was because “everyone was sure Clinton would win.”

No matter how many times you try to rewrite it, everyone was not sure that Clinton would win. I was there.


People have been crapping on Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight for four years now, but when the weather forecaster says there’s a 30% chance of rain then you don’t get to ream them out if you happen to get wet.


This is a great example of the broken clock is right twice a day saying.

Also relevant for this year: There are fewer undecided voters and the third party candidates just aren’t visible. That means there is less room for the polling averages to move around and makes it more likely that the actual vote margin will fall within the range suggested by the polls.


The Shy Trump Voter theory has been debunked. At this point stories like this are clickbait. Its effect was marginal at best. Many 2016 polls were (1) within the margin of error and (2) under-weighting white men without college degrees, and how overwhelmingly this demo voted for 45. Good pollsters have since fixed the latter. 2018 midterms were very accurate. If the polls are wrong again, which could always happen, it won’t be on account of mythological shy Trump voters.


of course, there are also “shy biden voters” in red states. i’m from texas and we have a close friend who confided to us she had voted for biden but told us never to reveal that to anyone else because her husband and her father and her brothers would virtually disown her if they knew.

her husband put up a trump 2020 sign in their front yard that is 8 feet tall and 18 feet across.


Correct me if I am wrong here, but my recollection is that the national polls were quite accurate. The fault lay in the miniscule errors at the state level in an election where miniscule differences made all the difference. No one expects a poll to be accurate to <0.5 percentage points, but that was what told the tale.


Fivethirtyeight was one of the only publications warning that it was far from a sure thing up to the last minute. People gotta blame someone when their fantasy crumbles.