The danger of using rallies to gauge support

One of the things that candidates for office have to be cautious of is thinking that the enthusiastic response they get at large rallies is a sign of widespread overwhelming support for them and their policies. The people who attend rallies tend to be the die-hard fans and not representative of the population at large. And yet, it must be exhilarating to have large numbers of people cheer you on and the temptation can be irresistible to say things that make them respond even more enthusiastically.

We see this on display in the interview that Donald Trump had with one of his biggest backers, Sean Hannity of Fox News, in a large auditorium. This is where Trump indicated that he may not immediately deport all the undocumented immigrants in the US but when it came to those who had lived here a long time with no problems, he may ‘work with them’, whatever that means. Note how when he senses that he is losing the support of the crowd, he circles back and doubles down on those policies (building a wall that Mexico will pay for, deporting criminals) that he already knows the audience will like. That is the problem with Trump. He seems to say things on the fly depending on his sense of what the crowd likes, and this can lead him to say things that are contradictory.

This softening of his stance on immigration has caused those in what is now being called the alt-right circles to go apoplectic. In response Trump shifted back to a seemingly more hardline stance in a subsequent interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, though it is hard to say because he filibustered and emphasized his big applause lines before burying his response in a blizzard of words.

I don’t what Trump will do when he finds out Hitler ‘s angry reaction to his Hannity interview.


  1. John Smith says

    1. Rallies do increase turnout and can help out beat the polls -- it is not as precise a measure as actual polls, but it is there.
    2. Trump benefits from the Bradley effect -- he naturally beats the polls among non-republican voters and may have a 5th column in the democratic base. Note how the Black Men for Bernie organizer Bruce Carter endorsed Trump.

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