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A look at the national, and state-by-state polls over the week since the Democratic convention reveals a devastating picture for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, with his opponent leading him by an average of 7 points, but in some polls reaching double digits, and going as high as 15 points. The Republican party is in a panic, obviously, with some suggesting it’s not too late to ask the candidate to bow out humbly and let another take his place. These Republicans have already given up on a chance to take the White House and are concentrating instead on retaining at least one of the two legislative houses. The rule of thumb in American politics is, apparently, that in states where the presidential candidate wins by a certain margin (8 points has been suggested as the accepted mark), he or she also sweep into office their party senators and congress members.

Even candidate Trump seems to have been injured by his campaign’s terrible numbers, because he started accusing a rigged election system in his projected loss come November. But at the same time Trump has been predicting a big victory for his side, and while the general media have treated this statement as just one more case of Trump unruly bravado, he just might know what he’s talking about.

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Last Friday the website FiveThirtyEight released a Trump campaign memo from before the start of the RNC primaries, revealing an unorthodox strategy of going after unlikely voters in the primaries, people who rarely if ever participate in elections. The memo charted a campaign that relied on free media, using Trump’s controversial TV appearances, unmatched in media attention by any of his opponents, to bring in those irregular voters.

The memo suggests that Trump’s voters are Americans who are in a “persistent state of disenfranchisement,” and recommends pursuing them, leaving Trump’s opponents to fight over “the same heavily tilled soil” of likely voters. “An unprecedented targeting strategy must be in sync with this unprecedented campaign,” the memo concluded.

Looking back, it appears that this strategy was ingenious, resulting in candidate Trump filling up stadiums with newcomers to the Republican party who were there to answer his call — much the way candidate Obama back in 2008 brought in Black voters who otherwise would not have trusted the system enough to vote.

The Trump strategy worked to deliver him the nomination, so why is he dropping like a stone in the polls? The answer to that question can possibly be found in the mother of all polling failure stories, the 1936 Literary Digest straw poll that predicted a landslide victory for GOP candidate Alf Landon over Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with 57 percent of the vote. Why did the Digest fail, after having predicted correctly every presidential election from 1920 to 1932? The reason was that the Digest polled about 2 million people, whose name were gotten from lists of magazine subscribers, car owners and telephone customers—people who had money during the Depression, and who were outvoted by people who did not have any of the above.

The closer polling services get to November, the more they prefer to draw their random samples from likely voters rather than mere registered voters. Registered voters, according to Gallup, are people who in response to a standard poll question say they are “registered to vote in their precinct or election district.” This is the group whose data Gallup reports most often because they represent an estimate of Americans who in theory are eligible to vote and could vote if they want to.

Gallup established the rules of the polling game back in the same 1936 election, when their use of a random sample of 50,000 Americans yielded the correct prediction of a Roosevelt victory — so it’s safe to assume that most polling services adhere to the same guidelines, more or less.

But Gallup and other surveys know that in the final analysis, not all of these registered voters will actually vote. In fact, only a little more than half of eligible American voters actually show up come election day. And so Gallup has created systems to delineate the likely voters — lists of individuals who are most likely to actually vote, to provide more reliable predictions.

And herein lies the possibility that Gallup and everyone else in the polling business have been overlooking Trump’s voters. If we presume that the Trump victory relied on an untapped segment of the population, what can we expect to be some of this group’s common denominators?

They are white, they feel ignored by the system, they mistrust politicians and the media.

In determining the likelihood of a respondent showing up to vote, Gallup and other services have developed a list of questions for which they give the respondent one point for each positive answer:

1. Thinking about the election (quite a lot, some) 2. Know where in the neighborhood to go to vote (yes) 3. Voted in election precinct before (yes) 4. How often have they voted before (always, nearly always) 5. Plan to vote in 2016 election (yes) 6, Likelihood of voting on a 10-point scale (7-10) 7. Voted in last presidential election (yes)

Let’s assume that a Trump voter gets the call from Gallup and decides to answer the above questions truthfully (it’s always possible that they would decide to fool the pollster, as an act against the hostile media — Israel experienced more than one such case in which polls failed to predict a rightwing victory because rightwing voters lied to pollsters whom they viewed as representing a leftwing media elite).

The Trump voter answering truthfully may answer No to Questions 2, 3, 4, and 7, thus scoring only 3 points and being discarded as unlikely to vote. So that while the bulk of Trump’s outsiders remain under the polling radar, come November they would all show up at the polling stations and possibly give their candidate his unlikely victory.

Finally, some in the rightwing media (Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren comes to mind) have suggested there may be a phenomenon of pro-Trump respondents feeling ashamed of revealing to a stranger, an educated pollster, that they support a man who is vilified by almost every media outlet in the land, the brunt of jokes, a boob, even a potential traitor (called on President Putin to hack into a US party’s computers). They may vote for him in November, but they may be uncomfortable admitting it.

It should be noted that in most of the polls where she is beating Trump by significant margins, Hillary Clinton rarely receives more than 45% of the votes, and that consequently in every such poll, Trump’s votes plus the “I don’t know” votes add up to more than the Democrat’s numbers. With fewer than 55% of Americans normally voting in presidential elections (in midterm elections the figures plummet well below that), all Trump needs is to bring in five to ten percent of the voters who have never gone to the polls before.

He may have already done that.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. trashy trump says he dropped out of the race that the whole thing was a farce . imho he droped out because he got a ton of flack for being a bigot. not to mention being uneducated and a scammer trump university ring a bell? this way he doesnt have to post his tax returns that mysteriously went MIA gee wonder what or should i say how many fraud charges would he get slammed with ? things that make you go hmmmm

  2. trump has a collection of supporters who view his rallies as something to do, somewhere to go.

    Given the nature of those rallies, it's as much a place for the crowd to express its rage, frustration, and other emotions as an opportunity for them to hear the candidate.

    But large crowds do not translate by any means into greater numbers of voters, and someone who "follows the tour" – goes to all rallies within a day's driving range, for example – can still only vote once (legally).

  3. Do you all realize that the alternative choice is Hillary? Have you not all had enough of Obama and Hillary's policies towards Israel? This should not be a difficult choice. Why would any of you even consider more of the same as you have experienced in the last 8 years. I don't understand the Trump criticism when hands down he is a better choice. Americans need a break so we can get back on our feet. I think everyone is going to be in for a shock with the results in November. Trump has far more momentum than is relected in the polls.

  4. Yaakov Zelig You "believe" or you know for a fact? Because facts are sorely lacking here. Foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S. So unless you're going to go all conspiracy theory on us, you have no point.

  5. Phillip Nagle You are kidding, right? His rallies conjure Nuremberg, he and his audiences spew racist garbage, the man himself encourages physical violence and claims supreme knowledge of what ails us and how to fix it. And now those who would prefer us dead embrace the demagogue's ideology. Knowing my history, I'm quite comfortable thinking on my own that Mr. Trump makes people feel comfortable with their prejudices, and encourages their violent expression. We vote him to the highest office of the land at our peril. ?אני זוכר. אתה

  6. Trump is the better choice? Who for, Nazis? Racists? Misongynists? Billionaires? I'm not expecting to change your mind, but come on. A little reality check, please. Tell me one thing that Trump has said that hasn't completely contradicted something else he's said before. Tell me one idea that's he come up with on his own that has made any sense. Build a wall? It'll never happen. Make Muslims walk around with special ID cards? How very Third Reich of him. What, your daughter experienced sexual harassment at work? Tell her to find another job somewhere else, and stop complaining so much. The only thing he knows about business is how to make himself rich off the backs–and to the financial peril–of working people. Oh, and he wants to use nuclear weapons against countries he doesn't like. More actual conservatives are coming out against him, because they know an unhinged demagogue when they see one.

  7. Dan Kaufman: "Foreign nationals are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S."

    You do realize that "The Clinton Foundation" isn't an election contribution. Just a tax free non-profit that the Clinton family continues to take money from.

  8. Lou Palumbo I did not say Trump is Nazi. I am saying–and this is a fact–that the American Nazi Party is endorsing him because they believe they can thrive under his presidency. As for racism, perhaps you could open your eyes and ears slightly. When he talks about a group of people based on the color of their skin or the country they come from, and says that they're all the same and we have to get rid of them or keep them out of our country, that's racism. It is nothing more, and nothing less.

  9. Richard Charron If you think Trump's desire to pick a fight with our allies is good for Israel; if you think he has one-tenth the foreign policy experience or knowledge as any other politician (or my teenage nephew); if you think his scapegoating entire groups of people based on the color of their skin or religion doesn't call to mind another leader in another country in another era; and if you think his ability to rile up a crowd into a fury of misdirected and unmitigated anger and violence is good for our country; by all means vote for the man.

    I'll vote for the woman who has decades of experience in public service, who thinks before she speaks, who builds coalitions rather than trying to go it alone, and who has no delusions of being the "only one" who can solve our nation's problems.

  10. Lou Palumbo Donating to her campaign and donating to her family's foundation are factually two different things. You can get all conspiracy-theory on us if you like, but unless you have proof that the Clinton campaign is drawing funds from the Clinton Foundation, this is sort of a silly conversation.

  11. Dan Kaufman So Dan inasmuch as you really have no valid reasons for preferring HIllary over Trump be honest with us. You realize that Trump's daughter is married to a Jew and that she also has converted to Judaism. Did you just get a lousy room in a Trump resort or did you play a bad round on one of his golf courses. Those would be better reasons than the BS you conjure up. Hillary is a total fraud and liar who has not one accomplishment to her name and you expect us to hand her the keys to the oval office. Perhpas you should just take a nap until the election is over. Tell us if the Nazi Party were to like one of your posts would that make you a Nazi supporter. Your arguments are childish and if not for your picture I would take your ramblings as those of a recent college graduate from an ultra liberal college. Go away fool. As someone else here mentioned perhaps you should monitor Al Jazera.

  12. Richard Charron If someone from the American Nazi Party were to like anything I've said, I would seriously re-evaluate what I was saying. But I feel safe in the knowledge that they don't.

    The mere fact that he has a Jewish son-in-law does not make him suddenly someone who understands Jewish issues, which, by the way, are human issues. And if you think he couldn't possibly scapegoat Jews the way he scapegoats Muslims or Latinos or Philipinos (!), just keep holding tight to that notion so you can get through the next few months.

    It couldn't possibly get worse, right? Besides, he's only attacking other people, right? He only wants Muslims to walk around with special ID cards, right? He only wants to have a religious test applied to Muslims, right? He wouldn't come after us, right? RIGHT? It's still America, right?

  13. Richard Charron Well, I am gay, so no, I would not have to reevaluate my ideas. But just as the LGBT community is made up of lots of different people with lots of different opinions, so is the Jewish community. I wouldn't expect everyone who is gay or Jewish or male or my age or whatever to agree with everything I say or do. But I hope we're all interested in living together in harmony, since, well, America.

    I think what you're trying to say is that just because a virulently racist and anti-Semetic organization like the American Nazi Party endorses Donald Trump and embraces his racist statements and direction, doesn't mean that others who don't embrace the organization's positions can't also endorse Trump.

    And what I would say to that is, you can't separate Trump from his statements. He's made them, and he continues to make them. He singles out entire groups of people based on the color of their skin or their religion and tells us all that they are all bad. And his audiences react, and they enjoy the permission they get from him to take their anger out on complete strangers. Have you seen the video from the New York Times? http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000004533191/unfiltered-voices-from-donald-trumps-crowds.html
    His ability to kick civility to the dustbin is unfathomably disturbing. I'll let you decide if it reminds you of any other time in history where entire groups of people were singled out and scapegoated for a nation's ills.

    There is a reason why the American Nazi Party likes him. That should give you pause, or at least make you sit up and take notice, but I get the very real sense that it doesn't even faze you.

  14. Dan Kaufman To begin with I already figured out you were gay primarily from the vile rhetoric you exude. I knew you had some type of bee in your bonnet. Why do you call Trump a racist? Just because others do? Trump according to all who know him doesn't have a racist bone in his body but of course you discount them. He never said a thing wrong about immigrants Mexican or otherwise than what was true. Does the term illegal not mean a thing to you. His comments about drug dealers and rapist coming across our borders illegally is fact whether you like it or not. As to the Muslims flooding our refugee program I agree one hundred percent with his views that until we find a way to properly vet them we should keep them all out. How many innocents have to be killed before you acknowledge that this is a problem. Was not 40 some odd gay people in Orlando enough. The killer's father was standing behind Hillary last night at a rally in Tampa. You just regurgitate Democrat talking points as if they were fact and expect everyone to agree. You are wrong on this issue and I pray nightly that Hillary never sees the inside of the White House again along with her pervert husband. You mean to tell me that all her connections to foreign countries don't bother you in the least? Especially with all the money her phony foundation has received from them. All I can say is I'm glad you only have one vote. Is this is the best alternative to Trump you can come up with. I doubt very much she will make it to the election once the next batch of email comes out. She should have been jailed long ago.

  15. Dan Kaufman Wait until you have a 10% Muslim population who think all gays should be beheaded and I would say we could talk but of course with no head you won't be able to. Be careful what you ask for as you are very likely to get it.

  16. Richard Charron Nice. You've convinced me. Where do I sign up to cower in fear of my neighbors? Better yet, is there someplace I can turn them in? They haven't done anything yet, but, you know, they're Muslims. It's really only a matter of time. Heil Trump! (Sorry…that just slipped out.)

  17. Dan Kaufman Don't worry you will be ok. Donald Trump will protect you. This is still America and we will be going back to our roots once he is in office. Just today 50 Republican leaders who help to put us in this mess just came out against Trump. That's the best endorsement he could have received. What they don't realize is that while all the pundits and politicans are against Trump because he is upsetting their apple cart, the majority of the people who also have a vote are on the Trump train to victory. I'm sure he will make this point quite effectively in the next few months as well as at the debates. I would give anything to be at one of these debates in person if Hillary makes it that far.

  18. Richard Charron If I've learned anything in the last few months it's that both sides seem to feel the other side is delusional and living in an alternate universe. So, conversely, my friends and I are wagering when Donald will announce that he's not taking part in the debates, or dropping out altogether because he thinks the election is rigged. The saying goes, "May you live in interesting times." It's going to be an interesting fall. מספיק. שלום לך .

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