While most polls publically conclude that Donald Trump is behind or that the race for the US presidency is tight, a review of the raw data reveals that that conclusion is based on one big faulty assumption – the definition of a “likely voter.” Most pollsters assume that people who have voted in the last few elections are the only people who will vote today. If someone supports Trump but hasn’t voted recently, that person isn’t considered a “likely voter” and doesn’t get counted.
Trump’s victory will come as a huge surprise because today’s elections are going to break traditional voting patterns. He’s been winning over multitudes of disaffected blue-collars who haven’t voted in the past due to their dislike of The Establishment. But now they’re attracted by Trump’s promise of radical change. Given the pollsters’ flawed definition of a “likely voter,” if they conclude that Clinton is leading by only a few percentage points, I can tell that really, secretly, they’re showing that Trump will win.
Pollsters made a similar mistake just a few months ago, in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. They firmly believed that Britain would vote to Remain in the EU, because they assumed that voting patterns would be similar to those of the 2015 General Election. Actually, the anti-EU campaigners won the referendum by mobilizing the support of some three million people who don’t normally vote but who were excited by the prospect of change.
Trump is using the same strategy. In fact, he’s got one of the most prominent anti-EU campaigners working for him to deliver a surprising Brexit-like outcome to the US election. That’s why Trump has been working so hard to develop his image as the anti-establishment candidate. Calling his rival “Crooked Hillary” is part of that strategy. It underscores his contempt for the system and reinforces the impression that she is the system, since she’s been in politics for so many years. Similarly, he highlights his distrust of the system by refusing to promise that he’ll accept the outcome of the election. Newspapers pilloried him for that pronouncement, but those were mainstream newspapers – the heart of the system, and their criticism only reinforces Trump’s status as the ultimate outsider, an image tailor-made for an independent and disaffected voter.
Trump’s opponents have, unwittingly, done whatever they could to help him win over that target audience. Senior Republicans’ refusal to back him must have convinced many independents that he really is very anti-establishment. And the recent closure of the email investigation against Clinton has done nothing to help. A disaffected voter sees it as an attempt by The Establishment to enable Clinton to cheat justice. Of course, that anger just makes them even more likely to strike back at The Establishment by turning out to vote Trump.
So the pollsters have blundered again. In fact, this blunder may actually ensure Clinton’s defeat, since her purported lead in the polls may actually keep her supporters (and the undecided voters she’s targeting) from voting. After all, polls show that most of them aren’t excited about her. They just hate and fear Trump even more. And if, as the latest polling suggests, Trump isn’t very likely to win, those lukewarm Clinton supporters may decide that the possibility of a Trump presidency doesn’t seem realistic enough to make them vote for a candidate whom they dislike.