Call them the secret Biden voters.
Political observers say there is a group of voters that has emerged in this cycle: Republicans who have never supported a Democratic candidate — not for the city council, Congress or president — who suddenly find themselves set to vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE.
And they don’t want anyone to know it.
In 2016, some strategists concluded that a number of voters were secretly voting for Donald Trump but were not getting picked up by pollsters.
This year, strategists are wondering about Biden voters in red states and counties who are not waving signs and are keeping their views relatively quiet, but who could help the former vice president not only win states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but also other states Democrats lost to Trump in 2016, such as Iowa, North Carolina and Georgia, where the vice president visited on Tuesday.
“There is a lot of evidence that they do exist and they’re everywhere,” one Biden ally said.
In Florida, a battleground state crucial to Trump’s reelection bid, there may be some apprehension, at least in some pockets, about publicly declaring support for Biden.
“I’m not coming out and saying it,” one Palm Beach County Republican supporting Biden told The Hill. “But I’m allowing people to connect the dots.”
The voter, who has never supported a Democrat before and lives with another Republican, added that “it’s not that I’m ashamed to vote for Biden. I know I’m doing the right thing. I just don’t want it out there.”
“I think a lot of people must feel the same,” the Republican said.
A number of Republicans, of course, have been vocal about their disloyalty to Trump. They include former Secretary of State Colin PowellColin Luther PowellHow each of us can help to cure our nation’s ills Bush endorsing Biden? Don’t hold your breath Red meat for the right wingers will be the main course at RNC MORE and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
The Lincoln Project, another high-profile example, is a PAC formed by prominent Republican strategists that has been hitting Trump regularly, including with a Demi Lovato music video, “Commander in Chief,” released on Tuesday.
A group of former aides to former President George W. Bush — “43 alumni for Biden” — have also publicly voiced support for Biden and set up a fundraising page on their website.
But then there are the GOP voters who aren’t public about siding with Biden.
Tony Fratto, a veteran of the second Bush White House, said there are definitely Republican voters out there who are supporting Biden but aren’t talking about it with friends or neighbors.
“They’re not shy with me, because they know how I feel,” he said.
Fratto said the fact that there are high-profile Republicans breaking with Trump could help other voters feel more safe in quietly voting against a party they have long identified with.
“We’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “And it does give people cover to know that there are prominent Republicans publicly out there. There’s comfort in that.”
A poll from Monmouth University out this past summer revealed that 27 percent of those surveyed believe that there are secret voters for Biden. Fifty-seven percent, however, say there are voters who secretly support Trump.
“The media consistently reports that Biden is in the lead, but voters remember what happened in 2016,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The specter of a secret Trump vote looms large in 2020.”
The Trump campaign and its allies have given air to this idea, arguing that polls showing Biden leading Trump nationally and in swing states are wrong.
The Biden campaign, however, is sending signals that show it is optimistic about its chances on Election Day.
Sending Biden to Georgia a week before the election underscores that confidence. Biden also stumped in Arizona in recent weeks, hoping to turn that state blue.
Democratic strategist Joel Payne said Biden’s message has been helping to pull all kinds of voters, which could help him on Election Day next week.
“Part of the Biden appeal from day one has been the ability to pull in a broader coalition of voters, including Republican fence-sitters who feel alienated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE,” Payne said.
The Florida Republican who spoke anonymously to The Hill also feels “pushed into a corner” by Trump.
“I never ever thought I’d support a Democrat. It’s not who I am,” the Republican said. “But this was the only option.”