Post-Election National Survey

Some interesting findings from the preeminent Republican polling firm.

The team at Public Opinion Strategies*, a leading Republican survey research firm that has long been the GOP half of the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll and other national surveys, has released their post-election findings.

Here’s the topline:

  1. President Trump won the 30% who voted on Election Day by 26 points (59% for Trump/33% for Biden).
  2. Late deciders broke heavily towards President Trump. Among voters who decided in October or later (11% of the electorate), Trump won by 16 points (51% Trump/35% Biden/14% Third Party Candidate).
  3. President Trump continued to enjoy crushing margins among non-college white men (67% Trump/27% Biden)
  4. Former Vice President Biden did win seniors, but by just one point (48% Trump/49% Biden).
  5. There were more “shy Trump voters” than “shy Biden voters.” Nineteen percent (19%) of Trump voters said they kept their support for Trump a secret from most of their friends, compared to just 8% of Biden voters.

Here’s a PDF of their presentation slides:

Some things that stuck out to me:

  • The “wrong direction” number of 60% was essentially the same as 2016’s 62%. Trump lost the popular vote despite it working in his favor last time and didn’t lose much worse this time with it working against him.
  • This race has been baked-in for a long time. 81% of the voters made up their mind by September, compared to just 61% in 2016.
  • Not shockingly, way more people voted early this year given the pandemic and ensuing rules changes. And, of course, these people were disproportiontely Democrats, given Trump’s campaign to delegitimate the process. Indeed, I’m surprised the margin was only 20%.
  • I read “shy” voters as being ashamed or otherwise fearing being ostracized by one’s circle for admitting one’s preference. It’s not surprising that more Trump voters were in this category.
  • I’m honestly skeptical of the Latino surge for Trump. While one could posit that Latino men think Trump is “manly,” Biden is at least male. Trump was running against a woman last time.
  • The shift of non-college white men to Republicans is interesting but much-remarked-upon.

Additionally, I should note that I had a sidebar conversation on Twitter a day or two before the election with Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics remarking how odd it was that the final NBC-WSJ poll had shifted to “registered voters” rather than “likely voters.” It turns out that they were well-founded in dropping the screen. Even so, they—like just about everyone else—overestimated Biden support. Presumably, that’s partly explained by the late decider/shy Trump voters.


*The company employed my late, first wife for many years before her death nine years ago and several of the partners remain family friends. But their standing in the field is unrivaled. Not only do they have multiple Pollster of the Year winners but their principals are in constant demand for election night commentary and the most prestigious national surveys.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. al Ameda says:

    Good piece James.

    What’s becoming really clear to me is that in the battleground states, the polling margin-of-error went to Trump. I never believed the poling that showed Biden up 5-10 in Michigan or Wisconsin. I figured that if the MOE was 3% then those races were probably a toss-up.

    Pollsters are going to have to figure this out. I’ve wondered how they’ve adjusted to a world where people are using cellphones and many, like my daughters, have never had landlines. Not sure how this shakes out but, change is gonna come.

  2. Kathy says:

    What’s the percentage who feel like crawling into bed and not coming out until this thing is decided?

    As to polling, it’s joining such problems as the AIDS vaccine, the make up of dark matter, and the nature of consciousness.

  3. Gustopher says:

    I’m honestly skeptical of the Latino surge for Trump. While one could posit that Latino men think Trump is “manly,” Biden is at least male. Trump was running against a woman last time.

    Going from losing Latino’s 3:1 to 2:1 is not what we would traditionally call a surge.

    I expect that there is more to the story than just “El Presidente Trump oozes machismo”, and that we will discover that there was careful targeting of voters in the Spanish language media that just doesn’t get on the mainstream press’s radar.

    Democrats take POC voters (VOC?) for granted — it’s assumed that by simply not being a screaming racist, a Democrat will win those votes by huge margins. Perhaps that margin is only 2:1.

    All the Democrats offer is immigration reform, which is not an issue for a lot of Latinos who have been here for a few generations. I assume that some Latinos are even worried that people coming from Guatamala are going to take their jobs — there’s a huge range of Latinos.

    It’s a cliche, but without the racism, Latinos should be a Republican constituency — very religious, culturally consevative, etc. If Republicans are figuring out how to divide the Latino communities, I would expect their vote share to rise.

  4. Gustopher says:

    I’m curious about whether Latino Trump voters were more likely to be Shy Trump voters — it would explain a lot of the inaccuracies in Texas and Florida.

    Anyway, that’s one of my hypothesis — and an ostensibly testable hypothesis, unless they are also shy of the pollsters.

  5. mattbernius says:

    I’m honestly skeptical of the Latino surge for Trump. While one could posit that Latino men think Trump is “manly,” Biden is at least male. Trump was running against a woman last time.

    Some of the issue is trying to treat “Latinos” as a hegemonic group. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Trump made significant inroads with some Latino communities (in particular Cubans–or at least that is what Miami-Dade’s major shift is suggesting).

    It also appears that in other states, Latinos from other ethnic backgrounds, along with other minority groups, were critical for getting Biden over the finish line.

  6. Kathy says:


    there’s a huge range of Latinos.

    Yes, and it’s worth keeping in mind that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and California were part of Mexico until the 1840s (Texas in the 1830s). Many erstwhile Mexican citizens remained after the Yankees took their home territories, and their descendants remain there to this day.

    It pains me to say this, too, but also keep in mind racism is a thing in other countries as well. I don’t know what the situation is in South and Central America, but in Mexico, indigenous peoples do not fare well at all.

    Did you see the film “Roma” by Alfonso Cuaron? I didn’t. An actor in the film, Yalitzia Aparicio was nominated at the Oscars for best actress. There were lots of indignant comments about bestowing such honor on an indigenous person (using a word that’s equivalent to the N-word in America).

    Who makes such comments? People of straight European descent, mostly Spaniard, and some of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, who are the most common group by far (in case anyone’s interested, my descent is from Eastern Europe, which is rare here).

    Many of those live in the US now, many legally, and may not be that keen on the poor types, Mexican or not, coming to the US illegally.

  7. Mu Yixiao says:

    @al Ameda:

    Pollsters are going to have to figure this out. I’ve wondered how they’ve adjusted to a world where people are using cellphones and many, like my daughters, have never had landlines. Not sure how this shakes out but, change is gonna come.

    It’s another “Dewey Defeats Truman” scenario. That’s something I’ve thought about for a while. I don’t know how (or if) pollsters will be able to catch up with the rapid progression of communication.

  8. Mu Yixiao says:


    It pains me to say this, too, but also keep in mind racism is a thing in other countries as well.

    Dear gods, I wish more people understood this.

    I got into a debate with a couple “kids”* about this a few years back. It was shortly after the goalposts got shifted over to the cricket pitch and “racist” was redefined to only include those in power or with societal authority**.

    My reply was: “Oh. So… You’re saying that I can’t be racist. I’m part of a 0.04% minority and have zero ability to affect the laws, society, or culture where I am***. And… you’re saying that if Hitler went to Nigeria, he’d no longer be racist?”

    That didn’t go over so well with them.

    And they disappeared when I started talking about how racist the Chinese and Japanese are (to blacks, whites, and any other Asians).

    On the other hand, my friends from other countries can’t understand why Americans think that a traditional Chinese dress worn by a Latina, or “all lives matter”, or Speedy Gonzales are racist.

    * 20-somethings who’d never left the liberal mid-west.
    ** Only white people.
    *** I was in China at the time.

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ve believed for some time that the term People of Color was politically meaningless. The Left insists on applying the Black template to every minority, but the Black experience has almost nothing in common with the Brown experience, or the gay experience, and still less with the women’s vote.

  10. JohnSF says:

    I wonder if some part of the dialog between American “progressives” and various ethnic groups is conditioned by something I’ve occasionally noticed about some Americans.
    There is a tendency to see oppression as solely emanating from a majority against a minority group.

    Given American history of a majority rule country that has been exceedingly unpleasant to minority groups at various time, this is an understandable bias.

    But I get the feeling that Hispanic/Latin Americans are rather more like Europeans in their historical experience: both a aware that minorities are fully capable of getting some oppressing done on their own account, given the opportunity and motivation.

  11. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    There was an Argentinian comedy troupe, very popular in the 80s, called Les Luthiers. they did an album called “Letters of Color,” about an African immigrant to America in the 20s or 30s (or so it felt). the title refers to letters he exchanges with his uncle. the whole thing is more than a little racist, but one bit goes: “It’s not true, by the way, that all black people are mistreated in this country. Some black people are mistreated in other countries.”

    I’ve heard of a Chinese creation myth, that tells how the gods created people. First they baked them too long so they burned, and these were black people. Then they failed to bake the next batch long enough, so they were pale and raw, and these are white people. Finally they got everything right and created the Chinese people.

    Remember Fujimori in Peru? He was born there, but of Japanese parents. His nickname was “El Chino.”

    The Jewish community in mexico is very small, not quite 70 thousand. There are some religious divisions between Orthodox and Conservatives and Reformists, which is to be expected. there’s also division between Ashkenazim Jews of European descent, and Sephardim Jews of Middle Eastern descent.

    I could go on, but yes, racism, ethnocentrism, and ethnic nationalism and supremacy are all over the world in all kinds of guises.

  12. inhumans99 says:


    I think that this is THE story of how Biden almost lost the election (which is not called yet, but my gut says that the courts are not going to let Trump steal an election from the American Public, which would as KM noted in this thread or another one today…be a bridge too far for even Conservatives who only watch Fox News and have come to hate Liberals).

    What is baked into the cake is that many folks who support Trump are racists, or uneducated, or poor, or “one” issue voters (abortion), and the list goes on of stuff that we already know and quite frankly is not something we can “fix” in time for the 2022 elections. We need to let them go…what we can do as Democrats is realize that we take POC (especially folks from Mexico, or other Latin American nations) for granted and assume we have them in the bag and it is just their being lazy and not actually voting that hurts Democrats at the ballot box.

    I would say that all of the POC voters in FL and TX who broke hard for Trump put lie to the notion that non-whites should automatically be assumed to be on our side.

    We have time to actually create a message and get it out there in the wild so it seeps into the right geographic locations/communities before 2022 rolls around and we get hosed again.

    I even fell for the trap of assuming African Americans, etc., were in the bag for Biden and kept telling myself that it was so odd that so many stories were coming out that Biden was actually struggling to gain traction with African Americans and Latinos as that can’t quite be correct.

    Nope, it was and then some. Honestly, if the amount of time and money and blood, sweat, and tears it took for Biden to barely win the election is not a wake-up call that we need to change our messaging towards certain voting blocs to make it less of an unholy grind to eke out wins at the ballot box than I give up.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Anybody wondering what is up with the Latinx vote, read this from the Texas Monthly: Don’t Call Texas’s Latino Voters the “Sleeping Giant”. It’s complicated.

  14. Northerner says:


    What is baked into the cake is that many folks who support Trump are racists, or uneducated, or poor, or “one” issue voters (abortion), and the list goes on of stuff that we already know and quite frankly is not something we can “fix” in time for the 2022 elections.

    In Canada most people simply vote for the party they’ve always voted for, more often than not spending almost no time listening or reading about any of the candidates. People who are interested in politics (and science for that matter) always overestimate how much effort other people put into educating themselves on it (hence the often horrible attempts by scientists to explain science to the general public — they assume everyone knows at least the basics of science).

    Given the percentage of the population that votes in the USA is the same or lower than in Canada, I suspect the same is true there — a significant percentage of people vote the way they’ve always voted without spending any time listening to any of the candidates. And a third of the people don’t bother voting at all. Its interesting that no one seems interested in reaching the non-voters now, its all about getting out your own vote and suppressing your opponents.

  15. Modulo Myself says:

    Look, Biden just won in an election with the highest turnout in 120 years. And how did he do it? It wasn’t Bloomberg and his 100 million in Florida, and it wasn’t the Republicans for Biden and it wasn’t some promise of a blue wave based on wishful thinking. It was mostly turnout in 3 or 4 distinct places that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and it was based on black people voting. For example look at Milwaukee–288K to 317K Democrats to 126K to 134K Republican. Biden won by 21K votes. That’s the state right there.

    So all of these takes that are going to be coming about how the GOP gained a few percentages here or there with black people or Latinos and how this means something regarding race for Democrats have to be considered in the light of the fact that black people won a nail-biter for the Democrats in a year in which there were race riots and a President ranting about America being polluted by Critical Race Theory, whatever that is. I would say that there’s a connection and that along with heavy organizing (done by people like Rashida Tlaib) protests and talking about race and insulting white racists actually won this election, rather than say dropping 100 million to win over 8 Republicans.

  16. Jax says:

    @Northerner: Everything you said up there about voters voting how they’ve always voted, plus guns/abortion/racism. There is a sizeable number of more “enlightened” individuals who have been horrified by Trump and all he stands for, but they’ll go back to the herd once Trump’s drama cools down.

    I really don’t know how we can get out the rest of the vote, what we could do to make them turn out….how many of them are disenfranchised and UNABLE to vote, how many just don’t care, etc. I was encouraged by the polling stations in Houston that went 24 hours, and they got a lot of people who work odd hours that would not normally be able to juggle their working hours and making it to their polling station.

  17. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: This is all pretty simple if the people paid to develop these strategies get their heads outta their ass and go socialize with people.

    Blacks are primarily aligned with Puerto Ricans and Dominican. We dont ride with Cubans (minus the black ones) , Mexicans, or any of the other Central & South American Latins. Personally I dislike Miami because it has the same vibe as say Boston where negros are supposed to stay in their assigned areas.

    Miami-Dade blacks are not particularly well off…which plays into the status game I mentioned in other threads. Cubans and other(actual) middle class Hispanics pretty much look down on black people there. The POC creation is not going to work. They’ll have to build a community of interest off some other shared interest.

    My last beef is that Dems cannot remain the anti religious party. Too many Americans are religious or at least ‘God Fearing’ Black people are the only hyper religious group in the Dem column…and thats only because of Republican outward racism…if they toned it down… evangelical blacks would absolutely jump ship.

    Finally, I know being labeled racist is terrifying for white people. “POC” think most of you are racist anyway so its not a showstopper if you have something else of value to offer.

    These are nuances easily discoverable by someone taking their job seriously. There simply is no reason for Republicans to dominate rural areas as thoroughly as they do. Either State Dems in Red States dont care or they dont have the talent or resources to succeed

  18. Matt says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    My last beef is that Dems cannot remain the anti religious party.

    That is some grade A bullshit you’re peddling there.

  19. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Matt: You’ve lived in Rural areas so you know its not bullshit.

  20. Matt says:

    @Jim Brown 32: It is utter bullshit peddled by so called Christians who are mad they can’t discriminate against blacks or gays while hiding behind their “religion”. The same people who believe religious freedom only applies to their religion and their ability to force it on to others.

    As someone who has had the religions of others forced on me throughout my life (in a rural area) I’m tired of it and I would LOVE for there to be a real anti-religious party.

    Regardless it’s not anti-religious when I refuse to allow you to force your bullshit beliefs on me…


  21. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Matt: Well those people that want to use “Christianity” to discriminate are nuts. You actually betray you own biases if you believe the fringe religious nuts are representative of the entire group. They aren’t–despite their views on some cultural issues–most are not interested in using the law to enforce their religious preference.

    Most regular Sunday church going people want to live and let live–the Democratic party is not the most comfortable group of people and the voices of Atheist and other people hostile to Religion (as a concept) are often amplified as displayed on this blog occasionally.

    You think Christian’s are natural fits inside a Tent where the voices inside that are amplified say their deeply held beliefs are fairy-tales? Maybe they are but do you want to be Woke or do you want to win? The Party should be clear that religious people that want to worship live and let live are celebrated–that can start by having the Atheists in the Party say the loud parts quietly.

  22. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Matt: Regarding the article–I believe the Author misses some nuanced points. Which seems to indicate that they haven’t been involved in any religious community enough to understand the nuance.

    The bottom line is that Churches as an institution are failing people with the result that people aren’t bothering to go to church. This doesn’t mean they discard their beliefs–in many cases it means they opt for a more individual or family centric journey over the church experience. Then there is the group of people that are “spiritual” and recognize something higher than humanity but not anything that manifest itself in a identified set of dogma and practices. I actually think the Democratic Party is pretty friendly to these types of people. I think these types are the minority of non-religious and the majority are the type I formerly described.