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Pundits and pollsters alike spent the weeks leading up to Election Day dismissing the idea of the “shy conservative voter” (voters who are secretly conservative but don’t telegraph it). Well, these fantastical characters are real, and they live and work amongst us.
Conservatives should bask in the validation and schadenfreude as they watch pundits eat crow, but the long-term implications of “hidden” like-minded voters require some serious reflection.
Wary of their 2016 performance, most mainstream pollsters collected extra-large samples of voters in swing-state polls. They still wrongly projected a bloodbath for conservative candidates. Meanwhile, the behavior of 2020 voters told a much different story:
- Nationally, social media engagement defied conventional wisdom by registering outsized levels of interest in conservative content over liberal content.
- Voter registration gains pointed to the President outperforming past results in Florida and other states where the GOP gained ground, but underperforming in Georgia where the Dems have gained voters since 2018.
- Google search trends pointed towards otherwise unseen late momentum for GOP candidates in Michigan and Maine.
While right-of-center voters in purple states turned their ringer on “silent” to avoid pollster calls, they quietly registered as Republicans and searched online for information on candidates to support. Later, as they mingled at the kids’ soccer game or their company water cooler, they pressed their lips tightly together, smiled, and nodded as their liberal friends spouted off political takes without hesitation. Then quietly, but in great numbers, the shy conservatives voted.
What if “shy conservatives” were less … shy? There are both short- and long-term impacts worth considering:
- GOP candidates would get more donations. While the Dems’ small donor base is growing at a mind-boggling pace, the number of GOP donors – especially non-Trump donors – is anemic at best. Democrats are proud to donate, and then add the sticker to their social media profiles. To Republicans, it’s both a chore and a personal risk. According to OpenSecrets.org, “In the 2020 election, women giving over $200 have donated nearly $1.3 billion to Democrats and roughly $570 million to Republicans.”
- GOP candidates would get more votes. It’s reasonable to assume that some shy conservatives take things a step further and abstain, or worse — vote for the other guy. By stepping out of the shadows and finding one another, conservatives begin to build a social permission structure to vote conservative without apology.
- The long-term sustainability of conservative values will improve. It’s impossible to pass along our values unless we have the confidence to say them out loud. Liberals certainly pass along their values without fear. A conservative who knows he is not ideologically alone is more likely to be brave in the face of liberal pressure designed to shame and silence opposing viewpoints.
Conservatives are already seeking out alternative media, podcasts, and communities to feed their intellect and values. Last year, I co-founded an online community to help conservatives find each other locally, CaucusRoom.com. No trolls allowed. We’re growing fast, particularly in blue communities.
We also are excited to begin working with the Ricochet community to help CaucusRoom users find and discuss great content on Ricochet’s platform, and to help Ricochet users find conservative neighbors, groups, and events near them. It’s time to come out from hiding and encourage one another.
Matt Knoedler is the Co-Founder and CEO of CaucusRoom.com, an online community for conservatives to gather, encourage, and engage locally.Published in