Polling on the 2016 presidential race undercounts secret Donald Trump voters, the businessman’s newly minted campaign manager argued this week during an interview with the U.K.’s Channel 4.
Kellyanne Conway, a respected pollster with decades of experience in Republican politics, dismissed polls showing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton comfortably in the lead by claiming they “cherry-picked polling numbers that are put out there by media outlets that are also bent on his destruction.”
“Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election,” Conway maintained in the interview that aired Wednesday. “It’s because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college-educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump.”
“The hidden Trump vote in this country is a very significant proposition,” she added. Conway’s public comments come after The Huffington Post reported Saturday that she had previously privately promised Trump that hidden voters would come out of the woodwork for him.
Conway said she couldn’t discuss exactly how much of the country secretly supports Trump.
“It’s a project we’re doing internally,” she said. “I call it the undercover Trump voter, but it’s real.”
Trump is currently trailing Clinton by a large margin, according to the HuffPost Pollster aggregate of available polling data. Of the most recent 20 surveys of the race, not a single one shows him ahead. (Even a recent online poll, conducted by Reuters, found Clinton up by 12 points.)
But that hasn’t stopped some of Trump’s surrogates and supporters from trying to “unskew” polls, wish them away, or, like Conway, claim that voters are secretly pining after the real estate mogul when not in the presence of family or friends.
But as HuffPost’s Sam Stein and Ariel Edwards-Levy reported earlier this month, pollsters for both parties say there is little evidence to suggest that Trump voters are being seriously undercounted:
“It’s possible [that some respondents won’t admit to supporting Trump], but I don’t think so,” said Bill McInturff, a longtime Republican pollster. “For two candidates with unusual negatives, the ballot by sub-group looks pretty traditional for what we’ve been seeing the last few cycles.”
“We won’t be able to say for sure until after Election Day, but it’s very unlikely,” said Mark Mellman, a longtime Democratic pollster. “Most of these kinds of theories don’t hold much water. People claimed primary polls were undercounting the Trump vote and they did not.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.