The Bradley Effect

September 28, 2008 · 1 Comment

Have you heard about the Bradley affect? It is based on the experience of African-American Tom Bradley, who was running for the position of Governor of California in 1982, after having been Mayor of Los Angeles. Leading in the polls going into the election, he ended up losing by a swing of 6-8 points.

The difference between what people tell pollsters and how they actually vote – when it comes to the charged issue of race – is called the Bradley effect. Respondents want to seem open and sophisticated; being openly racist is not socially condoned. So some people may say they’ll vote for Obama, but when push comes to shove in the privacy of the voting booth, they just can’t vote for a minority.

But that was then and this is now.  Or is it?  Have we made any progress on the issue of racism?

If this latent racism still exists, it would suggest that Obama would need a generous lead in polls ahead of the election to actually achieve electoral victory. The one unique factor on Obama’s side is that he has energized the younger generation and the African-American community. The campaign succeeded by having a better state strategy and by having an amazing grass roots organization. Many people feel that current polls are biased against Obama because of the surge of new voters who may be missed in the survey populations.

See the Wikiepdia article on “The Bradley Effect.”

Categories: McCain · Politics
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