Amid the scary poll numbers faced by the Trump campaign, at least one pollster thinks Trump will win – and his record in 2016 should give him some credibility.
His name is Robert Cahaly, and he runs a polling firm called Trafalgar Group. He called Trump’s 2016 victories in Michigan and Wisconsin, and this year, he has many of the key battleground states going Trump’s way. “We ended up having an incredible year,” he says. “I mean, we got Pennsylvania right. We got Michigan right. We had the best poll in five of the battleground states in 2016. And I actually predicted 306 to 232 on the electoral college. And we went from doing a little bit of polling on the side to that [being] our primary business in about 24 hours. And since then, that’s what we’ve been doing.”
National Review’s Rich Lowry interviewed him recently, and found out some of the firm’s secrets to accurate predictions.
This goes back to the social-desirability bias. People with opinions that are unpopular “don’t want to be judged by somebody on the phone that they don’t know.” If this was always true, it’s particularly so now: “They’ve seen all this stuff of people being shamed for their opinion, people losing their jobs.”
So Trafalgar mixes up how it contacts people, and especially wants respondents to feel safe in responding. “We use collection methods of live calls, auto calls, texts, emails, and a couple that we call our proprietary digital technology that we don’t explain, but it’s also digital,” Cahaly says. The point, he continues, is to “really push the anonymous part — this is your anonymous say-so.”
Another factor, is that “conservatives are less likely to participate in polls in general,” he says. “We see a five-to-one refusal rate among conservatives.” That means “you’ve got to work very hard to get a fair representation of conservatives, when you do any kind of a survey.”
This is intuitive on many levels. Conservatives seem to be more likely to have jobs and families, and less likely to be fanatically involved in politics to the point where they’re willing to fill out 30-point questionnaires. And the rash of “cancelations” and social shaming since 2016 may have made them shyer.
The only way to know for sure is to see the final tally, but conservatives shouldn’t feel discouraged going into November.