Want to get people to support a policy they'd otherwise be lukewarm about? Tell them it's backed by the candidate or party they like.
It's a human tendency that can lead to some especially interesting results when a party's standard-bearer is as malleable on the issues as Donald Trump has proved to be.
Since declaring his presidential candidacy last summer, Trump has said both that he supports raising the minimum wage:
I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I'd rather leave it to the states. … I like the idea of let the states decide. But I think people should get more. I think they're out there. They're working. It is a very low number. You know, with what's happened to the economy, with what's happened to the cost [of living]. I mean, it's just — I don't know how you live on $7.25 an hour.
Wages [are] too high. We're not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard, and they have to get into that upper stratum. But we cannot do this if we are going to compete against the rest of the world. We just can't do it. ... I would not raise the minimum [wage].
In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, half the people surveyed were told about his former statement, while half heard the latter.
For Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party, that made a difference.
Those who were told that Trump "has said he'd like to see the minimum wage increased" agreed with him by a margin of 57 percent to 36 percent. Those who were told that he "has said he would not raise the minimum wage" were notably more likely to express their own opposition to a wage hike, by a margin of 43 percent to 52 percent.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents weren't significantly affected on that question, although they're certainly not immune to similar experiments.
It's not uncommon for partisan opinions to shift in this way, nor is it especially unreasonable. Most Americans don't have strong opinions on every topic, and many figure that if their side is in favor of something, it’s likely a good idea, or vice versa.
In a HuffPost/YouGov survey a few years back, Republicans were more likely to oppose repealing the 1975 Public Affairs Act — which doesn’t actually exist — when they were told that President Barack Obama wanted to do so, while Democrats were more likely to object when they were told it was a Republican proposal. Similarly, Republicans are more supportive of universal health care and affirmative action when those policies are endorsed by Trump than when they're touted by Obama or Hillary Clinton, while Democrats move in the opposite direction.
But Trump has added an entirely new dimension to these types of public opinion polls. It's not just because a significant portion of his voters will follow his lead on an issue, regardless of whether he's contradicted himself. It's because most Americans have no idea what he thinks about the issue.
In the latest poll, 52 percent of Americans said they're not sure what Trump thinks about the minimum wage. The rest were all over the map: 13 percent think he favors raising it, 10 percent think he favors keeping it at the current level, 6 percent think he wants to lower it, and 18 percent don't believe he has a clear position.
The subset of Republicans and Republican leaners were equally confused, with 62 percent saying either they were unsure or he hasn't made his views clear.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted May 18 through May 20 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.