The huge collective hidden vote of Trump supporters in Pennsylvania surprised almost all of the groups taking polls before Tuesday’s presidential election, which mistakenly had Hillary Clinton defeating Republican Donald Trump.
“I don’t think any of us anticipated the large number of white blue-collar workers who voted,” G. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin and Marshall College Poll of Pennsylvania voters, said. “He doubled what Romney got four years ago in different parts of the state.”
Conversely, Madonna said, Clinton didn’t do as well with African American, Hispanic and millennial voters.
“It’s a combination of all those things and more,” Madonna said. “We also didn’t understand the effect of the enthusiasm factor and the so-called ‘shy’ vote — people who don’t want to talk to pollsters.”
Some of those “shy” voters were new voters.
“But I don’t know that Trump won because of new voters,” Madonna said. “He won because he appealed to white, working-class voters who have felt the angst and anger at being left behind.
“This was a vote against the establishment and government politicians, who for decades have ignored the plight of these working-class voters who lost their jobs in iron and steel, lead, paint and glass industries," he added. "All of those jobs were in rapid decline. These voters were people left doing jobs just barely above minimum wage and didn’t have the skills and background to get into the high tech.”
Trump tapped into that in ways that it hadn’t been tapped into before.
Few polls predicted Trump would win, but The Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California tracking poll was one of them. Arie Kapteyn, director of the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, which jointly runs the poll, told USA Today that some voters were apparently sheepish about admitting to a human pollster that they were backing Trump.
The L.A. Times/USC poll used an internet survey of a specific group of voters. “There’s some suggestion that Clinton supporters are more likely to say they’re a Clinton supporter than Trump supporters are to say they’re a Trump supporter,” Kapteyn said in the USA Today interview.
Madonna acknowledged that “big changes are needed in polling, and we’re in the process of doing just that. The problem is the low response rates when you call a hard line. If the person doesn’t recognize the number, they don’t pick up the phone. Some cell phone users don’t have phone numbers that are on the voter list.”
Franklin and Marshall’s poll surveyed too many young people and too many liberals, Madonna said.
“It is not that our polls were hugely off,” he said, “but at some point, you can’t continue to do polls just by telephone. You’ll have to use the internet, and maybe the long-term future of this is doing it over the web.”
Dandes writes for the Sunbury, Pennsylvania Daily Item.