The maligned polling industry is running into a new problem after blowing the 2016 presidential election: President Trump's supporters are keeping their feelings to themselves.
At Rasmussen Reports, which was the most accurate 2016 pollster, questions on Trump often see a spike in those who check "don't know."
Francis Coombs, Rasmussen managing editor, said, "In most surveys, you generally get 4 or 5 percent who say they are undecided, but if you ask about a controversial issue, particularly one involving Trump, that figure often jumps to the high teens — 17 percent or 18 percent. That tells me that a lot of those people agree with the president but just aren't going to say it out loud."
Jim McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates added that live interviews can lower that rate. "I think for the most part, if you sample and screen properly, people do not lie to you. Yes, there are some no opinion folks on Trump that probably do actually like him, but I just don't think there are too many of them," he said.
He and Democratic pollster John Zogby said the biggest problem in polling is that surveys still include too many Democrats.
McLaughlin told Secrets, "I have to be honest, not quite sure exactly why these media polls are under-sampling Republicans so badly. On election day in November of 16, party affiliation was 36 percent Democrat/33 percent Republican, I have no idea why some of the media polls are so bad. Is it because they are talking to adults, not likely voters or is it just flat out bias? Some of these polls have less than a quarter Republican when it should be about one-third."
Citing a new CBS poll that included just 24 percent Republicans, Zogby told us, "That is just not America as I know it."
Zogby, based in Utica, N.Y., said he doesn't believe pollsters are purposefully influencing their work.
"I don't think it is purposeful, I think it is functional. Years ago, the head of a prominent polling operation told me that they use out of work actors to do the polls. That is a far different voice, inflection, or attitude than an Iowan (or Utican, for that matter). Others just do not take party ID all that seriously," he said.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org