In 2016, the Trafalgar Group was one of the few organizations to correctly predict President Donald Trump’s upset victory over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Defying industry consensus, Cahaly said that the Republican candidate would win the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, and turned out to be right.
Unlike virtually all other polling agencies, Cahaly takes social pressure into account. Meaning, its models are designed in a way to account for voters’ apparent reluctance to express support for controversial, polarizing politicians like Trump.
“The social desirability bias is a theory that’s been around for a long time. It is that, especially when dealing with a live caller, the person being asked the questions will craft their answer in a way that puts them in the best light to the person asking the question.”
Four years ago, Cahaly pointed out, prominent political figures attacked not only Trump, but also his supporters. Notably, Clinton described Trump supporters as “deplorable.”
“It was beyond what we’d seen in the past. If you supported him, you were everything they were accusing him of being. There was a shaming of his supporters,” Cahaly explained, suggesting that public shaming of those supportive of Trump resulted in social pressure, which, in turn, made voters reluctant to publicly voice their support for the controversial candidate.
According to Cahaly, Trump is being underestimated again. Unlike the president, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is not considered a controversial, polarizing candidate, which is why there is no hidden Biden vote, the pollster said.
“No one looks at you and says you are so-and-so for supporting Biden,” he explained.
Cahaly asserted that “shy” Trump voters will, once again, propel the president to victory. The race, he predicted, will come down to two key states, and Trump will win both.
In Michigan, the pollster explained, Trump has made inroads with the Black community, largely thanks to Republican John James’ Senate candidacy. Biden, meanwhile, has not exactly benefited from his association with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has been criticized for imposing restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cahaly added that Trump will “probably” carry the Keystone State, even though his own polls give Biden a one-point advantage. He said that many in the state are still reluctant to express support for the president, which is why he expects him to “out-perform our polls.”
Public polling suggests that Biden is a strong favorite to win the presidency. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polling data, the Democrat is ahead in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Cahaly has previously made similar predictions.