Poll: General election poll results are likely misleading

A recent study could help us to better understand the current polling numbers for the presidential race.

Fox News reports that a new poll has found that Republican and independent voters are significantly more likely than their Democratic counterparts to not reveal their true preference for president. 

The numbers

The poll was conducted by the online market research and data collection company CloudResearch. The poll had two components: a survey that was completed online and then a telephone interview.

Two groups of people were used: One, a control group consisting of 1,000 respondents divided evenly among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. The other, a group of 1,000 respondents selected to match the demographics of likely voters, regardless of party.

Those participating were asked a series of questions starting with their political preference, i.e. Republican, Independent, Democrat. They were then asked how they feel about sharing that political preference in a phone poll. Then, in a phone interview, they were finally asked which candidate they supported.

The company found that 11.7 percent of Republicans and 10.5 percent of independents stated that they would not share their true preference for president. In contrast, only 5.4 percent of Democrat respondents gave the same response. This means that Republicans and Independents are twice as likely to hide their preferred candidate for president than are Democrat voters.

Some conclusions

According to Bloomberg, CloudResearch found that political party affiliation was the only characteristic that consistently correlated with a reluctance to state one’s presidential preference – not age, not race, not education, and not income.

This, thus, raises the possibility that the polls could be underestimating President Donald Trump’s support, just as in 2016.

As we know, in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was leading just about all of the polls until she lost on election night. Studies at the time attributed this partially to Americans who voted for Trump but who chose not to express their support for him until after he was elected. The same thing could be happening all over again.

CloudResearch, in its poll, asked some respondents why it is that they were unwilling to express their preference. Their response: that they thought it would be “dangerous” to express an opinion contrary to the “current liberal viewpoint.” That’s understandable.

What does this all mean?

The CloudResearch poll shows us that we can’t really trust the polls, and, that, if anything, as we look at the polls we probably ought to assume that President Trump is doing better than suggested.

If true, that is bad news for the Democrats.

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