The Corner

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Shhh...I’m a Bush Supporter


Here’s a great piece about “shy Republicans” that I think is dead on. The idea here is that the exit polls undercounted Bush supporters because some of them were too shy to admit that they’d voted for the president. I’ve suspected for some time that at least a small percentage of Bush supporters disguised their views when polled. But I’ve been too “shy” to state my suspicion out loud. It seemed too much like wishful thinking. Yet the frequent tendency of polls to underestimate public opposition to same-sex marriage is a clear precedent for the “shy voter” effect. People understand what MSM considers politically incorrect. They assume that pollsters are part of the liberal media, so they often keep their conservative views to themselves. The anti-Bush hatred and violence in this election managed to turn support for the president into almost as much of a taboo as, say, opposition to affirmative action. Given that, exit polls probably undercounted support for the president. The “shy Republican” effect is a cousin of the famous “silent majority.” It’s also the polar opposite of the liberal fantasy that “the people” are instinctively leftist, but too poor or discouraged to vote. This notion that “the people” are really on the side of revolution predates and inspires all the nonsense about voter “intimidation” in the 2000 election. But this election has exploded the fantasy of “the people’s” secret leftism. We finally got massive turnout, and it was dominated, not by newly energized leftists, but by a silent majority of “shy Republicans.” The myth of the secretly leftist “people” is over. There is just no plausible way to blame this election on anything other than the public’s relative conservatism. That’s why, for the first time in a long time, some real soul-searching is emerging on the left. And let’s remember that all of this felicitous liberal soul searching is being prompted by exit polls revealing popular concern for moral issues. So let’s be careful before throwing the exit poll baby out with the bath water.