This article appeared online at on Sunday, October 18, 2020: 

Shane Goldmacher, the New York Times’ national political journalist, watched a Biden campaign teleconference on Friday and tweeted what she heard Joe Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon say: “Please take note of the fact that we are not ahead by double digits.… Those are inflated national public polling numbers.”

This followed a statement O’Malley Dillon made two days earlier in a three-page memo obtained by Fox News: “The reality is that this race is far closer than some of the punditry we’re seeing on and on TV would suggest.”

She added:

While we see robust leads at the national level, in the states we’re counting on to carry us to victory like Arizona and North Carolina we’re only up by three points.


We also know that even the best polling can be wrong, and that variables like turnout mean that in a number of critical states we are functionally tied — and that we need to campaign like we’re trailing.

She further clarified her concerns on her own social-media account: “We think this race is far closer than folks on this website think. Like, a lot closer.”

According to the Anglo-American think tank Democracy Institute with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and London, the Biden campaign is already trailing Trump in those critical states. Their polling has consistently showed Trump leading Biden, and Jim Rossi of Forbes wanted to know why. Last week he interviewed Patrick Basham, the polling director at Democracy Institute.

He wrote: “Democracy Institute … has Trump up 46% to 45%, and up four points in the critical battleground states. I asked Basham why his poll looks so different than the others — and why it’s getting to little mainstream play.”

Here are selected parts of that interview:

Rossi: How is the Democracy Institute poll different?


Basham: Two key ways — turnout, and estimating “shy” … or “secret” Trump voters. The Democracy Institute, along with Zogby and Trafalgar Group … see turnout very similar to 2016….


Rossi: Let me ask about secret Trump voters aka shy Trump voters.… Can [you] measure these voters?


Basham: We devised questions to find out.… What we found is they do exist and in greater numbers [than in 2016]. Our questions go like this: “If you were a Trump voter, would you tell anybody? Would you tell your family? A friend? A coworker? Would you put a sign on your lawn or your car?”


Rossi: In Trump outperformed the RealClearPolitics average for battleground states by four points….


Basham: This is probably conservative. We see it at 5 to 6 percent.… In the Electoral College it varies more…. We see three types of shy Trump voters. First is the blue-collar, middle-aged white male in the rural Midwest. He is more busy than afraid to tell you. Second is the white suburban female. Third are African-American and Hispanic voters. They are [all] moving toward Trump in significant, maybe even historic numbers….


The #1 predictor of voting Republican is owning a handgun. Black female gun ownership has skyrocketed. Forty percent of new handgun owners are female; sixty percent are African American…. If you came from another planet and looked at every single line of tangible evidence, except [national mainstream] polling — just about every one of those metrics point to Trump.

In 2016, Trump won the election in the Electoral College over Clinton, 304 to 227. According to Democracy Institute’s polling, Trump will win the election in November with 320 Electoral College votes to Biden’s 218.

The fact that Democracy Institute’s poll results don’t match those of the ’s has made it, and Basham, a target. Said Basham: “When [our] October poll came out, Trump was in the hospital with COVID-19. Our poll was the only thing he tweeted about that day. We got mail and personal attacks on a scale that was hard to encounter. How we produced the numbers was not challenged, just that we produced numbers others don’t like. We’ve gone from having the most media-ignored poll to the most infamous poll.”

It might just turn out to be, once again, the most accurate poll as well.

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