Are Some Trump Supporters Not Responding To Political Polls? It's Possible

Oct 7, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in national public opinion polls by an average of about 9%. Could some of that gap be because some people who actually back the Republican incumbent aren't responding to pollsters?

A national pollster who does opinion surveys for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce took on the question Tuesday, during an MMAC online forum. Kenneth Goldstein is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and used to work at UW-Madison. Goldstein said some conservatives may be reluctant to respond these days.

"When your side is doing well, you're much happier to talk to a pollster. When your side is having a tough week, and Republicans had a tough week, you're less likely to talk to pollsters,” he said.

Polls released during the last month in Wisconsin show Biden ahead of Trump by between four and six percentage points. Goldstein said people refusing to talk doesn't explain all of that difference.

"If it's folks in Waukesha County, who have a college education, who aren't talking to the polls, that could create some bias, and that's probably part of it. But it's not going to explain five or six points. It could explain a couple of percentage points,” he said.

But Goldstein said one challenge for pollsters this fall is reaching more younger, white voters who haven't been to college, and get them to talk. More polls are coming out soon, including one Wednesday from Marquette University.