If you’ve suspected current polling does not reflect how close this presidential race really is, you’re not alone. The Economist Magazine–which endorsed Barak Obama and supported Hillary Clinton in 2016–agrees. Here’s why:
“The reason is a phenomenon researchers call ‘differential partisan non-response.’ In less geeky words, when the candidate you support is doing badly, you are less likely to answer a pollster’s call”, they explain. “After weeks of bad news, Donald Trump’s supporters may temporarily be declining pollsters calls.”
Researchers have known for years that when candidates of either party are plastered with negative news coverage, their supporters tend to avoid participating in surveys at those times.
The typical disproportionately negative coverage of President Trump has skyrocketed even higher in recent weeks. From the biased coverage of the New York Times illegally releasing his tax returns (and neglecting to mention the long-sought-after proof of Russian collusion or anything illegal for that matter was not there) to the negative coverage of Trump’s debate against Joe Biden and his cohort Chris Wallace, to the fact that he caught COVID-19 and did not die as expected from it, it’s been a non-stop pile of negative news coverage.
We know the negative news about Trump will only increase while we wait for answers about important things, such as whether Biden will pack the Supreme Court or not. But how much do think differential partisan non-response is skewing the polls? Please share your thoughts.