Donald Trump’s campaign is arguing that the Republican nominee would poll better than Hillary Clinton if those surveys accounted for “undercover” Trump voters embarrassed to admit that they support him.
Newly-minted campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, herself a veteran pollster, told the U.K.’s Channel 4 in a taped special, titled “President Trump? Can He Really Win?”, that the U.S. media intentionally ignores this “hidden Trump vote.”
The dozens of recent polls that show Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump both nationally and in battleground states are, according to Conway, “cherry-picked polling numbers that are put out there by media outlets that are also bent on his destruction.”
“He performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election,” she told Channel 4, in comments first flagged by MSNBC. “It’s because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump.”
“The hidden Trump vote in this country is a very significant proposition,” she added.
Asked if she could provide an estimate of the number of those voters, Conway said the campaign had a ballpark figure but was choosing to keep it private.
“I can’t discuss it,” she said. “It’s a project we’re doing internally. I call it the undercover Trump voter, but it’s real.”
The Republican nominee himself has joked that U.S. voters may be ashamed to publicly admit that they support his campaign.
.@realDonaldTrump jokes that he wins because people publicly say they won’t vote for him, then get in the booth and say “anyone looking?”
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) August 2, 2016
Yet even a national poll conducted in August by Trump-friendly Breitbart News found Clinton polling five points ahead of Trump. The survey was intended to provide “an accurate assessment” of the 2016 race in response to allegations of polls skewed against Trump.
Both Republican and Democratic pollsters interviewed by the Huffington Post this month said there was little evidence of a secret cohort of shy Trump voters. Trump’s performance in polls during the Republican primary were consistent with the results he received.