Most Pennsylvanians Believe Their Neighbors Secretly Support Trump

Pennsylvania voters support Joe Biden by 13 percentage points over President Donald Trump, according to a poll released Wednesday, but a majority also believe their neighbors secretly support the president and that Biden may still lose.

The Monmouth University poll shows that 57% of registered voters in the key electoral battleground believe there are at least some so-called “secret voters” in their community who support Trump but won’t tell anybody about it. The same poll shows just 27% believe there are secret Biden voters.

That could mean that Trump’s message that there is a “Silent Majority!” who will re-elect him despite polls showing Biden leading is working. It could also reflect memories of 2016, when Democrats were surprised by Trump’s win after numerous polls showing Hillary Clinton ahead.

Overall, the poll found Biden with a large lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, a state that had voted Democratic in six straight presidential elections until Trump won it in 2016. Biden leads by 53% to 40% among all registered voters surveyed, but that 13-point lead drops to seven to 10 points when different sets of likely voters are surveyed.

Still, 46% of Pennsylvania voters believe Trump will win their state this year, compared to 45% predicting a Biden win. And more than half, 54%, said they were surprised by Trump’s win four years ago.

“The media consistently reports that Biden is in the lead, but voters remember what happened in 2016,” said Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray. “The specter of a secret Trump vote looms large in 2020.”

Most Pennsylvanians Believe Their Neighbors Secretly Support Trump

Underestimating that “Shy Trump” voter was one reason pollsters underestimated Trump’s support in four years ago. A study by the American Association of Public Opinion Research suggested that asking about neighbors “warrants experimentation.”

“The general idea is that if people will not admit they personally would vote for Trump, they would admit that their neighbors would,” the AAPOR report said.

Trump has been counting on that secret vote as national polls show him behind by 9 points and losing in the three battleground states that propelled him to victory four years ago: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“I think a lot of people don’t want to talk about it,” Trump said Tuesday. “I think they’re not going to say, ‘Hey, I’m for Trump. I’m for Trump.’ They don’t want to go through the process. And I fully understand that, because the process is not fair,” Trump said.

The Monmouth poll of 401 registered Pennsylvania voters was conducted July 9 to 13 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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