- The most important question pollsters ask undecided or “leaning” voters is, “Is there a major-party candidate you can NEVER vote for, no matter the circumstances?”
- Trump’s support peaked at about 46% because 54% of voters said they could NEVER vote for him.
Post-Election update: Polls indicating 55% of voters saying they could never for Trump gave Clinton supporters false confidence. But they weren’t far off, but within the margin of error because they can’t precisely and with certainty predict who will vote, who won’t, where, in what key states. Trump received 46% of the vote, Clinton 48%, meaning that 54% voted against Trump and 52% voted against Hillary.
What pollsters didn’t account for was that a small number of voters in three states that went for Obama — Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin — went for Trump and turned their states.
- Polls showed Clinton and Trump tied at around 42%, leaving 16% undecided. These “undecided” voters, as I predicted, responded mostly to negative news about a candidate, voting AGAINST Hillary rather than for Trump, or chose not vote, partly as a result of the FBI announcement that it was re-investigating Hillary 10 days before the election.
- A Trump victory depended on Clinton’s negative ratings going up, extremely low turnout among likely Clinton voters, and/or a strong showings by libertarians and Greens, and Trump’s intensely negative ratings going down.
- A Clinton victory depended on Trump’s negative ratings staying above 50%, and continued disunity among Republicans and conservatives. But Republicans and conservatives did swallow hard and unite behind Trump.
I was shocked in May when polls showed Donald Trump running even with Hillary Clinton, both hovering in the 43 percent range. This was not the America I thought I knew. The majority of Americans are not unthinking bigots, full of rage, lacking in critical thinking skills, hostile to immigrants and Muslims, I thought.
The problem is in the poll, I surmised, is in the presentation. Perhaps they reflected only a momentary impulse on the part of people who haven’t thought this year’s election through yet and were impressed that Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee so easily, presuming he would quickly pivot to act more presidential.
Early and mid-June’s polls were back to what I would expect. After his disastrous statements, and reports of chaos surrounding his campaign and a delegate revolt, about 30 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump, while “55 percent of those polled say they could never vote for the real-estate developer and TV personality,” according to a Bloomberg poll. At the same time, 43 percent of voters said they could never vote for Hillary Clinton.
Trump cheered a late-June Rasmussen poll showing him with a four-point lead, 43% to 39%, and a Fox News poll showing him leading among independents, 39% to 31%. But those polls still suggests 17% to 20% of voters are undecided, and the latter poll doesn’t define “independents.” If the 56% no-Trump-never vote holds, he could lose in a landslide.
Extrapolating from these numbers, Trump’s base of support was about one-third of voters, and rose to 46 percent. A third of his support came from voters who simply hated Hillary Clinton.