Donald Trump speaks Saturday during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

THE BIG IDEA:

— Donald Trump fares better in online and automated polls than in more traditional surveys conducted by live callers. A slight but statistically significant gulf has stubbornly persisted over the six months since the billionaire Republican upended the race for the White House.

Dartmouth political scientist Kyle Dropp thinks “social desirability bias” is at play. In other words, people are afraid to tell another human being that they support the Republican because, even though they like him, they know about his controversial statements and do not want to be judged negatively.

This has happened before. Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, both underperformed in the polls when they were running for governor of California because a certain segment of the electorate did not want to publicly support an actor. (Reagan is viewed very differently today than he was in 1966.)

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Dropp, executive director of polling for Morning Consult, conducted a controlled study last week to explore which kinds of Republicans and right-leaning independents respond differently to an automated call, an Internet survey and a real person on the other end of the line.

Overall, Trump pulled 38 percent in the Internet poll and 32 percent in the live-caller poll. Jeb Bush, in contrast, garnered the same percentage online as on the phone. Most of the difference can be chalked up to education and engagement.

“Among adults with a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate degree, Trump performs about 10 percentage points better online than via live telephone,” Dropp writes this morning on the Consult. “And, among adults with some college, Trump performs more than 10 percentage points better online. Conversely, Republicans with a high school education or less favored Trump on the phone over online.

“There was also a split between engaged voters — people who say they are very interested in the election, or have previously voted in primaries or midterms — and the general registered voter population,” he continues. “Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling has a spread of eight to nine percentage points among these engaged voters.” (See the methodology here.)

— Generally, Trump performs much better among those who are less educated and less informed. These blue-collar voters, like everyone else, are likely to have friends with similar backgrounds and views. Because support for Trump is widespread, there is less of a social stigma in backing him. Indeed, it may be a badge of honor.

Interestingly, Ben Carson tends to perform better in live-caller polls than in online polls. Social scientists believe this might be explained by Republicans who are eager to demonstrate, when speaking to another person on the phone, that they can support an African American candidate for president. But they perhaps don’t feel pressure to do that when they perceive that their response will be more anonymous.

The Post’s in-house polling guru, Scott Clement, said other explanations should be considered for the divergence in Trump’s numbers, “such as different ways respondents hear and read response options or the level of effort respondents give to answering questions with a live interviewer providing motivation vs. an automated or web survey.”

“The big question is which mode is ‘correct,’ or better reflects respondents’ true support,” Clement emails.

A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

— This is a global trend: Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, says that anti-immigration, working-class parties in Europe also do better in online polls than live-caller ones. “Support for immigration and globalization are perhaps the only political sentiments that unite elites from both business and the academy, from right and left,” Olsen wrote in The Atlantic recently. “Openly supporting an anti-immigration candidate can risk social opprobrium, ridicule, or worse. In other words, for every group of vocal Trump supporters, there are probably a lot more who just don’t advertise it.”

— Not picked up in any of the forms of polling: Trump’s lagging organization. “A successful ground game is crucial in Iowa because of the state’s complicated method of caucus voting, but the Trump campaign has lagged in reaching some of its own benchmarks,” the New York Times’ Trip Gabriel reports. “Mr. Trump’s Iowa director predicted that he would recruit a leader for each of the state’s 1,681 Republican precincts by Thanksgiving. Instead, the first major training session for precinct leaders, heavily promoted in emails and conference calls, drew only about 80 people to West Des Moines last weekend, with about 50 participating online. … Mr. Trump has about 15 paid Iowa staff members, compared with 36 working for a ‘super PAC’ supporting Ben Carson that is organizing in his behalf in Iowa.” Before the 2008 caucuses, Barack Obama had over 200 paid staff members in more than 60 offices across Iowa. Bloomberg’s John McCormick reports from Iowa this morning that Trump supporters may need less guidance on how to caucus than widely assumed.

— The narrative – Evangelical elites coalescing behind Cruz over Rubio: Tom Hamburger scoops details of a post-Christmas retreat for Cruz with more than 100 evangelical leaders flying in to Cisco, Tex., on Dec. 28. The event includes a rally and concert but also hours of closed-door visiting time for Cruz with leading religious broadcasters, megachurch ministers and pastors from early states. The Cisco fly-in is one of three carefully planned meetings that are already boosting Cruz with a critical constituency that he believes can make the difference for him in Iowa, South Carolina and the majority of the states voting and caucusing on Super Tuesday. The Texas senator won the backing of a key evangelical coalition after a secret Dec. 7 meeting in which top national activists agreed to roll out a stream of endorsements, many timed for maximum impact between now and March 1.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— A car plowed into pedestrians on the sidewalk on the Las Vegas Strip last night, killing one person and injuring 37, six critically. The Review-Journal reports that a woman — in her 20’s, apparently from Oregon and driving a 1996 Oldsmobile — was arrested shortly after the crash after fleeing the scene. The deputy police chief said terrorism has been ruled out but that the crash is being investigated as intentional. “Police are getting a warrant for a blood test, but (they said) she wasn’t exhibiting extreme impairment,” the R-J relays. “A 3-year-old toddler in the car with the driver was unharmed.”

Miss Universe host Steve Harvey announced Miss Colombia as the pageant’s winner, but it was actually Miss PhilippinesIt led to a bizarre ending where Miss Colombia had to take off the crown after she thought she won. The screw-up is a weird sort of vindication for Trump, who sold control of the pageant after NBC and Univision cut ties with him in June.

Watch the looks on everyone’s faces in this 90-second video:

Trump took advantage of the moment:

— The Wall Street Journal reports that Iranian hackers

infiltrated the control system of a small dam less than 20 miles from New York City two years ago.

“America’s power grid, factories, pipelines, bridges and dams — all prime targets for digital armies — are sitting largely unprotected on the Internet,”

. “The 2013 dam hack highlighted another challenge for America’s digital defenses: the fog of cyberwar. Amid a mix of three-letter agencies, unclear Internet addresses and rules governing domestic surveillance, U.S. officials at first weren’t able to determine where the hackers had infiltrated…. Hackers are believed to have gained access to the dam through a cellular modem…. Two people familiar with the incident said the summary refers to the Bowman Avenue Dam, a small structure used for flood control near Rye, N.Y…. Investigators said hackers didn’t take control of the dam but probed the system.”

— All schools in Nashua, N.H., are closed today because of a “detailed” threat of violence made against both of the city’s high schools, the Union Leader reports.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party lost the majority in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, buffeted by high unemployment and corruption probes. Rajoy’s party still won the most seats but got only 29 percent of the vote, with newer, anti-austerity Podemos nabbing 20 percent. Rajoy said he would try to form a government. (The Telegraph)

GET SMART FAST:

  1. FIFA banned President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini from soccer for eight years for numerous ethics violations. (AP)
  2. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will add the African lion to the endangered species list. (Amy Ellis Nutt)
  3. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” earned $238 million in the U.S. this weekend, breaking the all-time record set earlier this year by “Jurassic World.” (Michael Cavna)
  4. A 20-year-old man involved in the gang rape of a woman on a bus in India was released from prison after just three years. (CNN)
  5. Israel is believed to be responsible for killing notorious Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar in an airstrike. (Ruth Eglash and Hugh Naylor)
  6. Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, a veteran of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, resigned amid allegations that he has sexually harassed many women throughout his political career. (AP)
  7. The State Department agreed to ignore Oman’s poor human-rights record in exchange for the country’s support of the Iran nuclear deal, Reuters reports.

POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:

  1. Two additional Bernie Sanders staffers were suspended while an internal review investigates how the campaign accessed voter information gathered by the Clinton campaign. (John Wagner)
  2. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) will retire next year after completing his third term, giving Democrats a prime pickup opportunity. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
  3. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the RGA chair who was buzzed about in years passed as a VP prospect, apologized for her staff throwing a rowdy hotel party and for her rude behavior to police officers called to investigate. (Niraj Chokshi)
  4. Jimmy Carter’s 28-year-old grandson Jeremy died. He had not been feeling well Saturday so lay down to take a nap. When he did not wake up, his mother checked on him and found that his heart had stopped. (AP)

SUNDAY SHOW HIGHLIGHTS:

Trump said on ABC there is no proof Vladimir Putin has killed enemies or journalists, defending his praise for and endorsement from Russia’s president. (Jose A. DelReal)

Rand Paul called on Marco Rubio to resign over his abysmal attendance record in the Senate, including skipping last week’s big vote on the spending bill. The comment, on CNN, came in response to Rubio criticizing Paul for seeking reelection in the Senate while pursuing the GOP nomination.

Jeb Bush insisted on CBS that he “hated” being the GOP front-runner and that he is more comfortable ranking lower in the polls because it means less scrutiny.

SECOND-DAY COVERAGE OF THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: 


Hillary and Bernie debate on ABC in Manchester, New Hampshire. (AFP/Getty Images/Jewel Samad)

— Low ratings, as expected: The ABC debate got a 6.0 household rating. The previous Democratic debate, on CBS, got a 6.1 household rating, which equated to about 8.5 million viewers. Here’s the debate summarized in three minutes.

— Hillary Clinton was late getting back on stage after a commercial break because a Martin O’Malley aide was using the sole bathroom backstage. “What viewers didn’t know was the sole women’s bathroom was a little further than the men’s room from the stage,” the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports. “And when the debate went to a long commercial break Clinton lost out to Lis Smith, the caffeine-guzzling deputy campaign manager for O’Malley.… A top Clinton staffer who was strategically posted outside the bathroom (presumably to avoid these kinds of situations) gave Smith a verbal OK to make a quick pit stop, according to one person familiar with the ladies’ line. … When Clinton finally returned, moderator David Muir was already asking another candidate a question. But the audience applauded as the front-runner walked up to her erstwhile empty podium.”

 Trump criticized her for being off (not very “presidential,” he claimed):

Sanders complained on the Sunday shows that the DNC scheduled debates at times where there would be fewer viewers to help Clinton. (John Wagner)

Republicans attacked Clinton for suggesting that the administration’s strategy against ISIS is paying dividends. Chris Christie called Clinton “Ms. Happy Talk,” saying she wants to only talk her way to the presidency. Trump faulted Clinton for suggestions ISIS supporters featured Trump in a recruitment video (they have not, though some have used his rhetoric to promote their agenda, says the Post Fact Checker)

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says she got “a little carried away” at the debate:

WAPO HIGHLIGHTS:


Marco Rubio visits Giese Sheet Metal in Dubuque, Iowa, on Friday. (Nicki Kohl/Telegraph Herald via AP)

— “Smart strategy or overconfidence? Rubio plays hard-to-get with voters,” by Sean Sullivan and Karen Tumulty: “Marco ­Rubio no doubt wants to sit behind the big desk in the Oval Office. What is not so clear is how hard he is willing to work to get there. Republican activists — including many who appreciate Rubio’s formidable political gifts and view him as the party’s best hope for beating Clinton — say they are alarmed at his seeming disdain for the day-to-day grind of retail politics. Even some staunch supporters are anxious. ‘Rubio has not put in the face time that he really needs to have, I don’t think,’ said Al Phillips, an influential South Carolina pastor who backs Rubio. ‘I think that’s been somewhat to his detriment.’ That may be, as some of his allies fret privately, a sign of overconfidence in his own abilities… “Rubio’s relative indifference toward wooing key activists contrasts with his eagerness to land top donors. His benefactors describe him as accessible and warm. … He recently secured support from billionaire hedge fund managers Paul Singer and Kenneth Griffin. He’s believed to be the favorite to win over billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.”


Justices at the 2013 State of the Union (Reuters/Charles Dharapak/Pool/Files)

“The Loyalty Effect” –> “Justices tend to agree with presidents that pick them — but stray later,” by Robert Barnes: Most members of the court make more decisions favorable to the president who brought them to the dance than they do to subsequent presidents, even those of the same party, according to a new study by two prominent Supreme Court experts. The law professors say what they call the ‘loyalty effect’ is evident even when other factors such as ideology and a personal relationship with the appointing president are taken into account. … That means that Democratic justices are less likely to vote for subsequent Democratic presidents, while the rate of variance for Republican nominees and subsequent Republican presidents is not as pronounced. … Judicial independence is a mainstay of American democracy, but politics plays a vital role in how a justice gets his or her job.”


Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian-born architect of the Paris attacks, was featured in the January issue of Dabiq, ISIS’ English language online magazine. (Dabiq Magazine via AP)

They may quote the Koran, but they’re just thugs –> “The Islamic State creates a new type of jihadist: Part terrorist, part gangster,” by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet: “The Islamic State is constructing an army of loyalists from Europe that includes an increasing number of street toughs and ex-cons as the nature of radicalization evolves in the era of the Caliphate. Rather than leave behind lives of crime, some adherents are using their illicit talents to finance recruiting rings and travel costs for foreign fighters even as their backgrounds give them potentially easier access to cash and weapons, posing a new kind of challenge to European authorities. … The picture now emerging of the Islamic State’s machinations in Europe is distinct from the development of al-Qaeda, which relied heavily in its early years on ostensibly pious recruits and wealthy foreign sponsors.”

Big setback for Big Oil –> “As decision nears, opposition builds to offshore drilling along Atlantic Coast,” by Joby Warrick in Virginia Beach: “When then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) first pushed the idea in 2010, it was easy to find Virginians who favored oil and gas drilling along the Virginia coast, even in this tourism-dependent city of 450,000. The city council voted 8 to 3 that year in support of the giant offshore rigs, betting, along with the mayor, that ‘there’s going to be money made.’ But that was before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and before oil prices began their historic slide. At its December meeting two weeks ago, the same city council abruptly reversed course, voting to rescind its 2010 resolution after some of the city’s biggest business alliances campaigned against drilling. … “The Obama administration is expected to finalize by early spring a plan that could allow limited oil and gas development off the coasts of four Southeastern states —Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. All four have heavily supported drilling in the past. But lately, resistance to the plan appears to be growing, particularly in coastal towns where politicians and business leaders are expressing doubts about whether oil and gas can deliver the economic benefits the industry’s backers claim.”


Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Rhode Island’s freshman governor is a rising star, a Democrat willing to take on Big Labor without antagonizing state employees. The Post’s editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, today contrasts Gina Raimondo’s willingness to take on tough problems with the congressional penchant for passing the buck. Four key paragraphs:

  • “Raimondo stands out on a number of counts: a Democrat elected in a year when even Massachusetts was choosing a Republican governor; a woman, when 44 states are led by men; perhaps oddest of all, a Democratic reformer of state pensions. During four years as state treasurer, Raimondo infuriated Rhode Island’s public employee unions, but she nonetheless went on to win the 2014 Democratic primary for governor and the general election.”
  • “After 18 months of negotiations, almost all of the unions agreed this year to a court settlement that preserves most of the reform. And Raimondo’s first budget directed much of the savings (about $300 million per year) to programs that will help the next generation, including more prekindergarten classes, school construction and a scholarship fund for community college students.”
  • “Raimondo, who is backing Hillary Clinton for president, doesn’t try to sell voters on fiscal responsibility for its own sake. She says she wants the Democratic Party to be the party of growth and innovation, to be pro-business and pro-government.”
  • “Rhode Island is tiny (just over 1 million people), and maybe politics that work there can’t work on a larger stage. Still, you can’t help wishing that a bit of her philosophy might rub off on Washington: ‘Don’t ignore big problems,” she says, “and don’t try to pretend that problems are smaller than they are.'”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

— Pictures of the day:

Post sportswriter Dan Steinberg chided Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan “for being so damn buttoned up all the time.” McCloughan was celebrating the Redskins 35-25 victory over the Buffalo Bills:

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R) shows off the Victorian Christmas festival in Canton:

Blaine Boyd, the first lady’s director of correspondence,will be showing how FLOTUS “shares holiday cheer” around the country for the next 12 days:

The Hubble Space Telescope sends back this image of a “globular cluster” known as Terzan 1, a “home for old stars.” About 20,000 light years away from Earth, its one of 150 such clusters in the Milky Way.

— Tweets of the day: Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards (D), who is running for Senate, remembers the Montgomery bus boycott:

“These are the people that Big Men Donald Trump and Chris Christie are afraid of,” Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) tweeted with this:


Post political editor Dan Eggen found a video spoof of Trump talking with a British accent:

— Instagrams of the day:

White House photographer Pete Souza has a moment with some Star Wars friends:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) cuts off Chris Christie’s green wrist-band now that the former is free of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two campaigned together in New Hampshire this weekend:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— New York Times, “Ted Cruz sharpens tone while on tour, in nod to Donald Trump,” by Matt Flegenheimer: “As he vaults toward the top of the Republican presidential field, leading some Iowa polls and climbing nationally, Mr. Cruz has taken care to compliment Donald J. Trump at every opportunity. And in the throes of a seven-day, 12-city swing to demonstrate strength beyond the early-voting states, Mr. Cruz’s flattery seems at times to have taken a new form: imitation. In ways cosmetic and substantive, Mr. Cruz has in recent days seemed to more closely resemble the man he has been chasing — or, more precisely, quietly drafting behind — for months. …  Perhaps most notably, Mr. Cruz has sharpened his already uncompromising language, eager to retain his own hold on popular anger against the political class, and to demonstrate conservative purity amid attacks from Rubio over immigration and national security policies. He has coined a new phrase, ‘undocumented Democrats,’ to describe those in the country illegally, and beefed up sections of his stump speech focused on immigration.”

— New York Times, “Hospitality and gambling interests delay closing of billion-dollar tax loophole,” by Eric Lipton and Liz Moyer: “In the span of a mere 11 days this month, $1 billion in future federal tax payments vanished. As congressional leaders were hastily braiding together a tax and spending bill of more than 2,000 pages, lobbyists swooped in to add 54 words that temporarily preserved a loophole sought by the hotel, restaurant and gambling industries, along with billionaire Wall Street investors, that allowed them to put real estate in trusts and avoid taxes. They won support from the top Senate Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, who responded to appeals from executives of casino companies, politically powerful players and huge employers in his state. And the lobbyists even helped draft the crucial language. The small changes, and the enormous windfall they generated, show the power of connected corporate lobbyists to alter a huge bill that is being put together with little time for lawmakers to consider. Throughout the legislation, there were thousands of other add-ons and hard to decipher tax changes.”

— Politico, “Sanders data controversy spotlights powerful gatekeeper,” by Nancy Scola: “At the heart of the Bernie Sanders data mess is a firm that functions as the digital plumbing of the Democratic Party: NGP VAN. Democrats are nearly wholly dependent on it, which is why the breach — the company says it’s the first in its nearly 20-year history — and the Sanders campaign’s subsequent cutoff from the system is so rattling the party. While Sanders may have defused the flap by apologizing to Clinton during Saturday’s debate … the extent of the damage done to both campaigns isn’t yet clear. If nothing else, it’s reminded Democrats of the risks of leaning so heavily on one private company to provide its technology infrastructure. How such an unsexy suite of software with an impenetrably acronymed name became both the fulcrum and the soul of Democratic politics — ‘I [heart] the VAN’ stickers are everywhere at gatherings of progressive field operatives — is a story of first-mover advantage and persistence.”

HOT ON THE LEFT

Fox News confronts Carly Fiorina for a made-up story about a military general. From Talking Points Memo: “Chris Wallace grilled Fiorina (for saying) that Gen. Jack Keane ‘retired early’ after a quarrel with President Obama. Keane himself appeared on Fox News and denied Fiorina’s claim. On Sunday, Wallace asked her about it. ‘But then there’s Keane who never served in the Obama administration, Wallace said. ‘Says he’s never spoken to Barack Obama. Weren’t you just flat wrong about that?’ ‘Well, I was wrong about Keane, yes. He is the exception that proves the rule,’ Fiorina said.”

HOT ON THE RIGHT

Christie calls Jeb a hypocrite for insulting Trump. From the Washington Examiner: While campaigning Sunday in New Hampshire, Christie criticized Bush for calling Trump a “jerk” after Bush told Trump at last week’s debate that he couldn’t “insult his way to the presidency.”

DAYBOOK:

— What’s happening today on the campaign trail: Christie will make three stops in New Hampshire, and will hold a town hall in New London at 6 p.m. Ben Carson will attend a business tour in Manchester and a Christmas celebration in Concord. Bernie Sanders is holding a town hall meeting in Sioux City, Iowa, at 7 p.m. Central. Mike Huckabee will make several stops in Iowa, holding meet and greets in Swisher, Van Horn and Marshalltown. Jeb Bush is holding a town hall meeting in Alton, N.H., in the evening. John Kasich is also in New Hampshire, and he will hold two town halls and and a “Women for Kasich” lunch in Greenland.  Martin O’Malley is holding a town hall in Windham at at 5:45.

— On the Hill: Recess

— At the White House: President Obama is in Hawaii for Christmas vacation.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that, but will certainly turn to him, as prior presidents have” for “special missions,” Hillary Clinton said during Saturday’s debate when asked about what Bill’s role will be.

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

“The long-advertised stretch of unseasonably mild Christmas week weather is on our doorstep, and the warmth on Christmas Eve may well be historic,” the Capital Weather Gang forecasts. “Clouds lower and thicken today as a weak front approaches from the west. Gentle flow from the south (around 5-10 mph) helps temperatures reach 50-55.”

— The Redskins stay atop the NFC East with their 7-7 record after the win against Buffalo. (Liz Clarke)

— The Capitals routed the New York Rangers, 7-3, at Madison Square Garden. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

Two male volunteer firefighters in Prince George’s County have been charged with assault after allegedly beating up two female career firefighters and dragging them out of a house in Landover in an apparent dispute over who should put out the fire. (Bowie Patch)

The final spending bill pumps a lot of money into the local economy: $557 million for the District’s DHS campus, $390 million toward an FBI campus, $154 million for improvements to Fort Meade and $150 million to Metro. (Jonathan O’Connell and Rachel Weiner)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Ted Cruz and his family put their own spin on Christmas classics. A funny 90-second video:

Jeb Bush released a new web video arguing he is the only Republican to “shut down” Trump:

John Kasich is trying to make the most of the bromance between Trump and Vladimir Putin, saying in a web video the two “would make tyranny great again:”

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler reprise their roles as Sarah Palin and Hillary on SNL:

“SNL” also lampooned the last GOP debate:

Stormtroopers and R2-D2 were spotted in the West Wing on Friday:

Star Wars fans wage a giant light saber battle in Los Angeles: