Weird Dilbert Guy Thinks ‘Shy’ Trump Voters Are Pulling Election Day Practical Joke
Donald Trump is cratering in the polls, but can we really trust the polls after they were all so wrong (not really) in 2016? Scott Adams, creator of the “Dilbert" comic strip, thinks the polls that show Joe Biden curb stomping Trump are “distorted." He has no real evidence for how this is happening. He just doesn't like that it means Trump is losing. What if there are other, more banana-pants interpretations of polling data that would make him feel better?
Adams has latched onto the “shy" Trump supporter theory: These are apparently people who are morally conscious enough to know Trump is a racist POS but are going to vote for him anyway for non-racist reasons, like his successful COVID-19 response or how he's defended the suburbs from Black mobs. They are just too embarrassed to admit they enjoy the president's antics. He's the political equivalent of "Melrose Place" from the 1990s. Don't lie. You know you watched every Monday.
Back in reality, there's no evidence that these “shy" voters exist. For one thing, most Trump supporters won't shut the fuck up about the stupid things they believe. They don't live secret, hidden lives. FiveThirtyEight effectively buried this stupid theory a few months ago.
If "shy" Trump voters were a thing, for example, you might expect a difference in how respondents reply to surveys conducted via telephone versus those anonymously submitted online — the idea being that social desirability bias is less likely to kick in when a respondent is dealing with a faceless computer instead of a real person. However, as Morning Consult's new 2,400-respondent study shows, Trump performed about the same against Joe Biden, regardless of whether the pollster interviewed respondents by phone or online.
Trump also isn't polling that much worse than Republican Senate candidates, especially in swing states. He's performing consistently better than Martha McSally in Arizona. If there are “shy" voters out there, they are potentially more likely to support Biden. Trump's support among white voters, especially white women, has eroded, and these disaffected Trump voters live among other, still enthusiastic Trump voters.
But Adams holds firm in his delusion that “shy" Trump supporters are epically trolling pollsters. Most of these people don't have the sense to come in out of the coronavirus but they have somehow coordinated this complex plot designed to make smarty-pants math geeks look foolish. There are more fulfilling ways to pass the time, even during a pandemic.
Biden raised $383 million in September to Trump's $247.8 million. Is it somehow all part of the plan for Sleepy Joe to outspend an incumbent president during the final month of the campaign? This is quite the practical joke or Ocean's Eleven long con. It's also kind of mean to Trump, who's received no positive polling news during the general election. His “shy" supporters are presumably throwing a big surprise party for him where they pretend everyone forgot his birthday, and he feels like crap until they jump out on Election Day and scream “Surprise!"
But that's not going to happen. The polls aren't “distorted." People are voting in record numbers because sensible people realize Trump shouldn't remain president another second longer.
Adams's entire theory requires that Trump voters are so petty they'd lie to pollsters just for their own later amusement. He's perhaps projecting his own issues onto the larger voting populace. After the first debate, when Trump failed to immediately denounce white supremacist groups, Adams said he felt “personally abused" and Trump had lost his vote. The president quickly regained his support but not because of anything he said. Apparently, liberals on Twitter were mean to Adams so he hopped back on the Trump train.
Support for Trump is rarely a defensible moral stance but rather a defiant poke in someone's eye. Which, again, doesn't really go with being "shy."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."