Here’s Why Many Pollsters Are Probably Still Getting Support For Trump Wrong

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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Pollsters appear to be misreading support for Donald Trump’s presidency for the same reason they got it wrong on the campaign trail. Many so-called “shy” Trump supporters are hesitant to express their support.

Approval ratings for the president vary wildly in the polls on what the American people think of his first few weeks in office. A recent CBS poll found just 40 percent approve of his job so far, a rather abysmal number. A Rasmussen survey released Friday found a much higher number — 54 percent — approve of Trump’s presidency. The disparate ratings could be explained by the fact that Rasmussen conducted the poll via automated phone calls and online surveys, which afforded respondents a much greater degree of anonymity, while CBS used more traditional live interviews over the phone.

“Once the element of anonymity is added, the president’s approval ratings suddenly look a lot better,” Politico notes in a recent analysis of the disparity in numbers. The same effect seems to have been in play in polls conducted during the campaign, which dramatically misread support for Trump. Some voters and supporters of the new president are apparently still hesitant to express their views, but feel more comfortable doing so online or to an automated system as opposed to a live interview. (RELATED: Pollster Eats Bug On TV After Being Wrong About Trump Victory)

While other factors may help explain the disparity, such as differently worded questions and differences in the population surveyed — polls of likely voters lean Republican, while polls of all adults lean Democrat — the difference in mode seems to hold as an explanation across a wide variety of polls.

Live-interview polls conducted by Gallup, CBS and CNN/ORC recently released found most Americans disapprove of Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven countries designated as terror threats, and two of them find most Americans disapprove of Trump’s opening job performance, according to Politico’s analysis. But those results are very different from a number of polls using newer online methodologies, which find broad support. Reuters/Ipsos, Huffington Post/YouGov, Rasmussen and a Democratic automated phone survey all found more Americans support the ban than oppose it.

Taken together, Trump’s approval rating in live interview polls is just 41 percent, but in five recent online or automated call surveys the number jumps to 48 percent. The numbers give plenty of ammunition to people on both sides of the aisle.

Trump upset journalists and critics when he urged his supporters this week not to trust any “negative” polls. “Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election,” he tweeted. “Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.”

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