Fauci Calls White House Criticism ‘Bizarre’

Fauci fights back while staying above the fray, and Trump strikes a blow at the “Magna Carta” of environmental law. It’s Thursday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

President Trump delivered remarks yesterday in Atlanta about infrastructure.

Biden now leads Trump by double digits in some of the most reputable nationwide polls, and even in surveys of some crucial swing states where Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But after the polling and forecasting debacles of 2016, when many state polls underestimated Trump’s strength — particularly in the Midwest — some Americans remain doubtful that polling is really telling the full story.

One of the biggest questions on many observers’ minds has to do with what is known as the “shy Trump” phenomenon: the idea that some people who support Trump will refuse to tell pollsters that they plan to vote for him, out of fear that they will be judged negatively for it.

But here’s the thing: Pollsters and academics have studied this idea, and they have found barely any evidence to support the “shy Trump” hypothesis.

One of those pollsters is Patrick Murray, who runs the polling institute at Monmouth University. Yesterday, Monmouth released a survey showing Biden with a towering, 13-percentage-point lead over Trump in Pennsylvania. The survey also found that, when asked, most Pennsylvania voters said they thought the “shy Trump” effect was real.

Fifty-seven percent of voters in the state said they thought there were “secret voters” in their communities who were going to vote for Trump but wouldn’t admit it publicly.

And no wonder: Polls in 2016 consistently overestimated Clinton’s strength there; as a result, so did the election forecasters reliant on state polls. Many people assumed some Trump supporters had simply lied to pollsters.

But Murray and his team conducted a post-mortem in the state, seeking to understand why their own 2016 polls had been overly kind to Clinton. After Trump emerged victorious, they called back voters to check whether people who previously said they wouldn’t support him had come around to voting for him.

“There weren’t many out there, certainly not enough to affect the overall results by more than a point,” Murray said in an interview. “In fact what we saw was that the unenthusiastic Hillary Clinton voters who decided to stay home were significantly more of a factor,” he added. “It was the Clinton voter who didn’t like her that much, and didn’t think their vote was needed based on what the media was saying was going to happen.”

Now, Murray said, he has evidence that the “shy Trump” effect isn’t real — but also that people tend to think it is. So where does that leave us?

“The likely impact seems to be that the kind of voter who was not that enthusiastic last time but was against Trump, and stayed home, is not going to stay home this time around,” Murray said. “It’s feeding into their anxiety that you can’t take the polls for granted right now, and so I think that the more that this idea of a ‘shy Trump’ vote persists, the more it’s probably going to end up helping Joe Biden.”

New York Times Events

Join us today for two separate New York Times events:

At 11 a.m. Eastern, our White House correspondent Maggie Haberman will join Andrew Ross Sorkin and the DealBook team for a behind-the-scenes look at what to expect in the months ahead from the Trump administration as the pandemic continues. R.S.V.P. here to attend virtually.

And at 5 p.m. Eastern, the Times political reporters Katie Glueck, Annie Karni, Lisa Lerer and Jennifer Medina will gather (virtually) to dive deep into the world of conventions — how they’re changing, why they matter and the latest on this unusual political summer. Rachel Dry, deputy politics editor, will host. You can R.S.V.P. here.

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