By Kyle Dropp
November 3, 2016 at 5:00 am ET
Are there “shy Trump” voters? It’s a question that many have asked since Morning Consult released a blockbuster study during the primaries that showed GOP voters were less likely to say they support Donald Trump to a live interviewer than via a self-administered interview online. But will “shy Trumpers” play a large factor in the general election?
In a follow-up to the study from the primaries, Morning Consult, in partnership with POLITICO, devised a definitive study to test this claim. The results, summarized below, show that while shy Trumpers do exist, they are not significant enough to affect the vote on Nov. 8.
Morning Consult conducted a survey among 2,075 likely voters from Oct. 27 to Oct. 30, 2016. Respondents entered the survey online and were asked a few background questions. Once completed, they were randomly assigned to complete the rest of the interview either by:
Once assigned to a live telephone interview or online interview, individuals answered a set of vote choice questions about the 2016 presidential election and other potential public actions related to support for a candidate (e.g., talking to friends in support of, putting out a yard sign, attending a rally). Finally, after completing the interviews, the leaned version of online and phone interviews was utilized because online typically has higher levels of “don’t knows” than live telephone.
There is no overall social desirability mode effect
Overall, there is no mode effect among likely voters. Clinton leads by 5 (52-47) by phone and by 3 (51-48) online. This is an effect in the expected direction (Clinton performing better on the phone), but it’s not statistically significant.
There is a social desirability effect with well-educated and higher income voters
Trump does perform worse on the phone with a live interviewer if the respondent has a college degree (Bachelor’s or post-grad). Trump performs 14 percentage points worse among college grads in live phone interviews.
Trump also performs worse on the phone among households earning more than $50,000 annually. He trails Clinton among households earning more than $50,000 by 10 points on the phone, but is tied in such households online.
After analyzing the results, it would appear that social desirability bias is not playing as large a role in the general election as it did in the primaries for two main reasons:
The primary and general electorates are vastly different
When looking at who turns out to vote in the primaries versus the general election, there a few key items that could downplay the “shy Trump” voter effect:
Different choices in primary than general election
This matters in terms of the “Shy Trump” vote for a couple reasons:
Dr. Kyle Dropp is the co-founder and chief research officer for Morning Consult.