The Politico today introduces us to a few (potential) Donald Trump protest voters who are motivated not by actual affection for the nativist cartoon plutocrat, but by contempt for the entire institution of electoral politics. These “Haters For Trump,” as The Politico dubs them, consider Trump to be a grotesque, racist oaf. But they are voting for him all the same, they say, in order to send a message of disgust with the entire political process, or to help him blow up the revanchist and money-captured Republican party.
How many of these people are there? Enough to justify a political trend piece that casts them as indicative of some broader trend in the American electorate? Sure, if you take The Politico’s word for it.
Pollsters don’t know how many of these voters are out there and have doubts about whether they will follow through and choose Trump on primary day. But they say the phenomenon is a real one....
“Pollsters” can’t count them, but “they say” that this conceit — that these people are worth writing about not simply because they are interesting or amusing characters, but because they represent a “phenomenon” — is sturdy enough to hang a trend piece on.
It takes a few paragraphs before we hear back from the pollsters:
Pollsters have a hard time estimating how many these Trump voters are out there, both because they may not be participating in Republican primary polls and because the polls are not designed to identify that sort of motivation.
Confirmed: We don’t know how many of these people there are.
Another few paragraphs later:
“There’s no way to know,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “We don’t ask why. We only ask what and who.”
It doesn’t sound like Peter Brown is the “pollster” who says that “the phenomenon is a real one.” Maybe it’s one of the other pollsters The Politico asked?
Perhaps the only other pollster quoted in the piece?
Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray has doubts that any of the declared Trump voters — both those who are sincere in their support or those motivated by disdain for the political system — will follow through on their stated intentions. “This is the banter back and forth before a prize fight. There’s a lot of trash talk going around, like, ‘I’m voting for Trump,’” he said. “When they’re looking at it in the cold light of day in February, they might back down.”
But, Murray added, “Trump has already broken all the rules that we know of, so I can’t predict that he’s not going to break the rest of them either.”
Pollsters seem to actually agree that “the phenomenon” is unmeasurable and probably illusory.
If you’re going to assert that experts agree with the premise of your trend piece, you ought to find at least one expert willing to be quoted agreeing with it.