Days before the presidential election, establishment media like The Washington Post claimed the “shy Trump voter” was no longer a thing. On-brand with big media’s track record of being wrong, exit polls are telling the opposite story.
Indeed, there was a “shy Trump voter,” but it wasn’t the blue-collar worker pollsters missed in 2016. Instead, the shy Trump voter of 2020 was a highly educated “she.”
According to a post-election survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the biggest “shy Trump” constituency of 2020 was a white, college-educated woman. Of all Trump voters, 19 percent said they kept their support for the president a secret from most of their friends, compared to just 8 percent of Joe Biden voters who did the same.
The survey found the shy Trump voter accounted for 4 percent of the overall electorate—and 64 percent of that group were women. Of course, the exit polling could be wrong. In fact, the actual percentage of shy Trump voters is likely higher. After all, the very definition of one is someone who declines to disclose his vote.
As political science professor Eric Kaufmann put it in an article exploring “Who are the real Shy Trumpers?,” “political correctness has left a cadre of white college graduates unwilling to reveal their voting intentions.” Kaufmann offers evidence that there is a shy Trump vote coming not from white, working-class MAGA supporters but from affluent Republican-leaning voters in the suburbs who are afraid to share their views on politics and hot-button cultural issues in public.
The fact that President Trump received more than half of the white female vote thus far is nothing short of astounding compared to the narrative of the past four years: That white, suburban women were leaving Trump and the Republican Oarty in droves. Fake evidence presented by a Democrat Party and their friends in the media who desperately wished it to be true came from the midterm election—which historically almost always swings in favor of the party not in control of the White House—and from pink you-know-what hats protesting in cities that always vote blue.
In reality, here’s what was happening on the ground: “I got called a white supremacist and a racist so I kept it to myself so I wouldn’t hear those words,” one woman told Public Opinion Strategies, as reported in its post-election survey. A sampling of others said: “I had neighbors say they would like to kill all Trump supporters. These were people with whom I really got along with well.”
“It was for my own safety. Some of my friends could be very negative. I did not want friendships to end.” “I have had three people unfriend me on Facebook.”
It’s ironic that those who now claim the country needs “unity” were so hostile to right-leaning voters that millions of them felt the need to conceal their vote. But when 50 percent of strong liberals support firing Trump donors, the threat to their livelihoods is real.
The shy Trump voter phenomenon is explained in a 2020 Cato survey that found that Republicans with the most education were the most worried their political views could cause them harm at work. Sixty percent of those surveyed with postgraduate degrees feared financial penalty for their political views, compared to just 25 percent of Democrats. The more education Republicans received, the more they worried their political views could cause them harm at work.
Instead of risking financial penalty or friendships from sharing their views, highly educated Trump supporters conceal their views socially but voice them at the polls. While sad, it’s understandable.
Suburban women with college degrees often have families at home. As Generra Peck, senior advisor at N2 America, found in her research of this group, suburban women choose to live in the suburbs because “they value things like good schools, they value law and order, [and] they value a strong economy.” These are policies Republicans support. But suburban women “overwhelmingly” refuse to even talk about voting for Trump because they worry about how they’ll be perceived amongst their peers.
Beyond the political implications, the most important takeaway of the shy Trump vote is for college-educated conservative women to know they’re not alone. Behind them is a growing army of strong, independent, educated women who dare to think and vote on their own.
Scrolling through Instagram, it rarely feels that way. But social media distorts our views about where the country stands politically. Instead of making us feel connected, it makes us feel alone.
Until the left decides to change course and do more than tell us what tolerance is, the trend of self-censorship will get worse. Instead of having robust conversations and debate, we’ll have a political climate where half the country shuts up, except for when they vote.