Trump May Be More Popular Than You Think

Some supporters might be lying to pollsters, study finds
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2015 12:11 AM CST
Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally on Monday in Grand Rapids, Mich.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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(Newser) – Some Donald Trump supporters are too ashamed to admit it, according to a new study that suggests that his poll numbers may be even higher than GOP strategists think. Researchers at the Morning Consult polling firm say that when they polled almost 2,500 Republican and Republican-leaning voters using a variety of methods last week, they found Trump's support was around 6% higher among those polled online, compared to those who spoke to a live human. His support was 4% higher among those who received automated calls. In what the Los Angeles Times calls the "most telling part of the experiment," the poll numbers didn't change much among blue-collar Republicans, but Trump's support was 9 points higher among college-educated GOP voters who replied online compared to those polled over the phone.

"It's our sense that a lot of polls are underreporting Trump's overall support," a Morning Consult spokesman tells the Times. The changing poll numbers are the result of what is known as "social desirability bias," which causes people to lie to pollsters out of shame, reports Vox, which notes that the same phenomenon causes activities like illegal drug use or masturbating to be underreported in polls. Vox notes that no other candidate saw the same degree of difference across polling methods. Ben Carson and Ted Cruz both had about 2% more support among those who spoke to an interviewer, while Jeb Bush's numbers didn't change. (New Yorkers have started a petition to change the name of Donald J. Trump State Park.)

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