The Nonresponse Problem: What else are we missing?



The shy Trump voter hypothesis does not, by itself, do a good job explaining what we've been seeing in polling data for the past six years. If you are looking for a single theory that will explain large polling biases going in opposite directions in Tennessee and California, you will have to look elsewhere. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that under-response by Trump supporters is a part of the story, and if that is the case, political analysts and data journalists have completely missed perhaps the most disturbing implication.

If we start with the standard assumption of the shy Trump voter hypothesis, that these people tend to distrust and dislike interacting with mainstream media, then it's not just electoral polls that are being affected. All recent polling of Republican attitudes will not just be biased but will be far more biased than the electoral polls (Trump Voters/Registered Voters < Trump Voters/GOP voters).

We would expect the shy (or more specifically mainstream media averse) Trump voter to be, for starters, more likely to be a Trump loyalist rather than just a Republican, and if they are driven by distrust of and hostility toward non-right wing media, we would also expect them to be more likely to be election deniers, more likely to support the January 6th insurrection, more likely to be MAGA, more likely to be Qanon, and more likely to espouse ideas like white nationalism. This would mean that polling has seriously underestimated the support for all (Read more...)