Issues & Insights

Shy Trump Voters Are Real, And They Could Decide The Election

I&I Editorial

A recent IBD/TIPP poll found something that appears to confirm the idea that there are lots of Trump supporters out there who won’t admit it to pollsters.

“Overall, 20% of registered voters say they’re uncomfortable revealing their preferred candidate, but that rises to 28% among independents,” it found.

That’s a shockingly high number and one that should worry anybody who expects Trump to get trounced in November.

Think about it: Which candidate are people likely to be uncomfortable revealing their preference for? The candidate who is being heralded as Mr. Empathy and the savior of the nation? Or the candidate who is universally described – in the press anyway – as a racist, xenophobic, dictatorial, dangerous lunatic?

Biden’s supporters have no reason to fear revealing their preference because they don’t have to fear being shamed or hounded or booed or yelled at.

It also found that among registered independents, “24% say they agree with Trump on some issues but are reluctant to admit that in public.”

So, it stands to reason that a large portion of that 28% of independents are secret Trump supporters.

Another indication that “shy” Trump voters is a real phenomenon: the same poll found that more people are undecided now (10%) than a year ago (4%), and almost all the increase in undecideds came from the Biden side.

Still more evidence comes from a widely cited Cato Institute survey, which found that an astonishing 77% of conservatives said they were afraid to share their political beliefs because of the reaction they’d get. Among liberals, only 52% felt this way.

Yet the press continues to bury its head in the sand and pretend that this phenomenon is one made up by Trump and his backers to help them cope with Biden’s lead in the polls.

CNN ran a story recently titled “Shy Trump voters are likely a myth.”

The New York Times published a lengthy article telling readers that while hidden Trump voters “exist” the idea “that there are substantial numbers of Trump voters who will emerge from hiding on Election Day, large enough to sway the outcome, is not supported by the latest public opinion research — or by a proper understanding of what happened in past elections where the voter surveys were off, said pollsters who work for Republican and Democratic candidates.”

What evidence does the Times provide to back that claim? Nothing. Just speculation and assertions along the lines of: “it would be a huge leap to conclude that the country’s tense political dynamics are causing people to lie to pollsters in large enough numbers to explain Mr. Trump’s poor standing” and “the effects of a hidden Trump vote are certainly overstated by the president’s allies.”

In fact, the only evidence the Times does marshal supports the idea that there a lot of Trump voters who won’t admit it.

At one point it cites David Winston, a pollster who works with congressional Republicans, who says that if voters were afraid of voicing their support for Trump you’d see “an uptick in the percentage of undecided voters rather than a rise in support for Mr. Biden.” In other words, just what the IBD/TIPP poll found.

Then the Times goes on to cite the work of Mitt Romney’s presidential pollster Neil Newhouse, who found that 35% of Trump voters in 2016 said they were unwilling to talk about their vote, and that up to a third of voters polled in Iowa and North Carolina said they knew someone who wouldn’t tell anyone but their closest friends that they were voting for Trump.

Newhouse also turned up the most concrete evidence that Trump backers lie to pollsters. He found that Trump did 2%-3% better in phone surveys taken in 2016 when the respondents could make their selection by pressing a button rather than talking to a person.

Over the ensuing four years, the hostility toward Trump and anyone who supports him has only grown more intense, which means that more people are likely reluctant to share their views with pollsters, no matter how often the pollster claims their responses are strictly anonymous.

We are not ones to try to predict an election, certainly not this one. But we will go out on a limb and predict that President Donald Trump does better than the polls suggest. For the simple reason that many likely Trump voters are too afraid to admit it to anybody.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

We Could Use Your Help

Issues & Insights was founded by seasoned journalists of the IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day -- without fear or favor.

We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we believe in a free press, and because we aren't afraid to tell the truth, even if it means being targeted by the left. Revenue from ads on the site help, but your support will truly make a difference in keeping our mission going. If you like what you see, feel free to visit our Donations Page by clicking here. And be sure to tell your friends!

You can also subscribe to I&I: It's free!

Just enter your email address below to get started.


I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Trump voters should decide the election, but that is not the way things work in the Democratic world. This election may well be decided by how many fraudulent votes get counted.

  • I think it was Stalin that said that it didn’t matter who voted, it mattered who counted the votes.

  • It seems that this issue is less important than the clear simply methods intentionally used by pollsters to push the idea that the Democrats lead. You can track this back to Carter in the 1970s. Only Reagan in his 2nd term was leading in polls during the summer. It’s not very hard to over sample democrats and get the result you want. And the purpose of the poll is tamp down enthusiasm in the Republicans. No different than the social unrest we are seeing is a planned strategy used by Democrats in hopes of rousing their base.

    Time to stop pretending that the Democrats are anything more than a fascist mafia.

  • We are not shy, we are sensible. No reason to doxx yourself to the antifa BLM terrorist mobs burning down cities and murdering people in cold blood. Trump will win in November, and most of the down ballot elections will go RED as in Republican, as in NOT democrat socialist rapist pedophile traitor scumbags. Antifa/BLM will attack in full force election night, so we are saving ourselves for that attack. They will not be defeated, but driven to extinction.

  • Although as a Conservative, I would never talk to a pollster via telephone or in person, I can’t imagine a Biden voter who would refuse, because at least every Progressive/Leftist I know or have come into contact with e.g on social media, etc., volunteers their political opinions without being asked (even if the subject of politics hasn’t come up).

  • What does it say about a candidate when many voters are too ashamed to admit their support?

  • There are certainly lots of Trump voters who won’t admit it publicly. But is that enough to overcome the superenergized Democratic turnout that is specifically voting against Trump, Democrats outspending Trump on air 10-1, as well as the Dem mail-in ballot harvesting machine? I doubt it. The best tell is the down ballot races. I can’t imagine anyone voting for a Dem Senator and Trump or vice versa. The Dems are ahead in the down ballot races. And I predict this will be the highest turnout election in the last 100 years, regardless of the result.

  • I don’t tell anyone I’m voting for Trump. Our neighbor put up Trump signs during 2016, but his property was repeatedly vandalized so he’s quiet this year. My father told an acquaintance that he was voting for Trump and that person left a voice mail message on his phone accusing him of being a Nazi. A Democrat-voting friend says she wants to vote for Trump this time. She said she probably won’t vote at all because she’s afraid of being socially cut off by her Democrat friends if she votes for Trump.

    If my small circle of family and friends is any sign of the times, there are a lot of people who are hiding their vote.

    Congratulations, Democrats. You’re the crazy tweaker on the city bus that no one wants to make eye contact with.

  • People who say Shy Trump Voters are a myth are democrats. If you are a Trump voter operating in the real world and in particular in a ‘blue” area, you have learned to keep quiet, you don’t put Trump stickers on your car or signs in your yard or wear a MAGA hat. Who needs the hassle of an indignant or possibly even destructive lefty causing you or your property harm. But shy trump voters know who they are and rest assured, there are more of them than you think.

About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

We Could Use Your Help

Help us fight for honesty in journalism and against the tyranny of the left. Issues & Insights is published by the editors of what once was Investor's Business Daily's award-winning opinion pages. If you like what you see, leave a donation by clicking on donate button above. You can also set up regular donations if you like. Ad revenue helps, but your support will truly make a difference. (Please note that we are not set up as a charitable organization, so donations aren't tax deductible.) Thank you!