Trump supporters are not telling pollsters they're voting for incumbent, historian warns of 'silent majority'
Presidential historian Jon Meacham has warned of a large number of voters who may vote for President Donald J Trump in November
Presidential historian Jon Meacham has warned of a large number of voters who may vote for President Donald J. Trump in November but are not telling pollsters they plan to do so. "We're in this moment where, I think, a lot of people who might be voting for the incumbent are not gonna tell pollsters," Meacham told MSNBC on Friday. "I know the Biden campaign is being careful about this as well. It's a long way to go."
Trump's Democratic challenger Joe Biden leads him by at least seven points in most national polls, including significant leads in several swing states.
However, Trump supporters seem to be confident of a so-called "silent majority" that stands with the commander-in-chief. “Frankly, the only poll that I put stock in is the one that’s going to take place on Nov. 3,” Vice President Mike Pence said earlier this month. “The enthusiasm that I see across the country as I travel, even in challenging times, around this president for our agenda is greater today than it was at this point four years ago. I mean, I see it everywhere I go, and I know that enthusiasm is going to carry us to a great victory on election day.”
Some mainstream election experts, however, have cast the phrase "silent majority" as a way for the Trump campaign to explain bad poll numbers.
“[Trump] likes the idea, personally, that the polling is wrong, that there's some kind of silent majority who supports him,” Angie Maxwell, director of the Diane Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, told the Washington Examiner. “[I]t's an attempt to stop the bleeding in terms of his support. His unfavorable numbers are so high now, and that makes those people who are on the fence feel less alone — that they're part of something bigger.”
The Pew Research Center found in a recent study that a majority of voters felt they couldn't express their political opinions freely fearing consequences, especially when it came to conservatives.
"This large number from across demographic groups suggests withheld opinions may not simply be radical or fringe perspectives in the process of being socially marginalized," the study said.
Meanwhile, a separate study conducted by the Associated Press - NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that Trump supporters have way more enthusiasm than those who plan to vote for Biden.
According to Meacham, the country is on "a knife's edge" heading into the general elections this fall.
"It's a 51-49 nation," he said. "And it's interesting, I think, that even in the big blowout years ... there's something about the American character that we don't run in one direction with one party for very long. It may be that this president has upended that norm ... but I would bet on there continuing to be this incredibly, closely divided nation going forward."
It's worth noting that Biden has held only one press conference in the past 105 days. He also did not accept questions from reporters after two major policy speeches in the past fortnight. Despite the criticism against the former vice president, he is reported to be leading the polls in several key states Trump captured in 2016, including by "7.8 points in Florida, 7.4 points in Pennsylvania, 8.4 points in Michigan, and 6.4 points in Wisconsin," according to RealClearPolitics index of polls.