Friday, October 10, 2008

The Bradley Effect

Yes, you know who it is. (Photo from the Washington Independent)


It's getting pretty nasty.

I just learned a new political term--The Bradley Effect:

The term Bradley effect, less commonly called the Wilder effect, refers to a frequently observed discrepancy between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in American political campaigns when a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. Named for Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in voter polls, the Bradley effect refers to a tendency on the part of voters to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a Black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his/her white opponent.

One theory for the Bradley effect is that some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation.
This has me terrified. I wish I'd never learned the term.

In 1982, Tom Bradley, the long-time mayor of Los Angeles, California, ran as the Democratic Party's candidate for Governor of California against Republican candidate George Deukmejian, who was white. The polls in the final days before the election consistently showed Bradley with a lead. Based on exit polls, a number of media outlets projected Bradley as the winner; early editions of the next day's San Francisco Chronicle featured a headline proclaiming "Bradley Win Projected." However, Bradley narrowly lost the race. Post-election research indicated that a smaller percentage of white voters actually voted for Bradley than polls had predicted, and that previously "undecided" voters had voted for Deukmejian in statistically anomalous numbers.

A month prior to the election, Bill Roberts, Deukmejian's campaign manager, predicted that white voters would break for his candidate
The good news is that there is apparently a REVERSE Bradley Effect, in which African-Americans minimize their partisanship, or are uncounted in polling because they are voting for the first time.

The Bradley effect is named for former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, a black, who lost a close 1982 gubernatorial election in California after holding a solid lead in the polls. As the 2008 primaries played out, [Anthony] Greenwald and [Bethany] Albertson found that the Bradley effect only showed up in three states – California, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

However, they found a reverse Bradley effect in 12 primary states. In these states they found actual support for Obama exceeded pre-election polls by totals of 7 percent or more, well beyond the polls’ margins of error. These errors ranged up to 18 percent in Georgia.

“The Bradley effect has mutated. We are seeing it in several states, but the reverse effect is much stronger,” said Greenwald. “We didn’t have a chance to look at these effects before on a national level. The prolonged Democratic primary process this year gave us a chance to look for this effect in 32 primaries in which the same two candidates faced each other.”

Albertson and Greenwald believe the errors in the polls are being driven by social pressures that can operate when voters are contacted by telephone prior to an election. They said that polls from states in the Southeast predicted a large black vote for Obama and a much weaker white vote. They found that, in a few Southeast states, exit polls showed that both whites and blacks gave more votes to Obama than the pre-election polls had predicted.

“Blacks understated their support for Obama and, even more surprising, whites did too. There also is some indication that this happened in such Republican states as Montana, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana,” Greenwald said
I was particularly worried about the Bradley Effect when I read about the unhinged-anger conservative crowds have recently exhibited. They seem to be going off the deep end. Is this good or bad for Obama? This current viciousness just FREAKS ME OUT:

With McCain passing up the opportunity to level any tough personal shots in his first two debates and the very real prospect of an Obama presidency setting in, the sort of hard-core partisan activists who turn out for campaign events are venting in unusually personal terms.

"Terrorist!” one man screamed Monday at a New Mexico rally after McCain voiced the campaign’s new rhetorical staple aimed at raising doubts about the Illinois senator: “Who is the real Barack Obama?”

"He's a damn liar!” yelled a woman Wednesday in Pennsylvania. "Get him. He's bad for our country."

At both stops, there were cries of, “Nobama,” picking up on a phrase that has appeared on yard signs, T-shirts and bumper stickers.

And Thursday, at a campaign town hall in Wisconsin, one Republican brought the crowd to its feet when he used his turn at the microphone to offer a soliloquy so impassioned it made the network news and earned extended play on Rush Limbaugh’s program.

“I’m mad; I’m really mad!” the voter bellowed. “And what’s going to surprise ya, is it’s not the economy — it’s the socialists taking over our country.”

After the crowd settled down he was back at it. “When you have an Obama, Pelosi and the rest of the hooligans up there gonna run this country, we gotta have our head examined!”

Such contempt for Democrats is, of course, nothing new from conservative activists. But in 2000 and 2004, the Republican rank and file was more apt to ridicule Gore as a stiff fabulist or Kerry as an effete weather vane of a politician.

“Flip-flop, flip-flop,” went the cry at Republican rallies four years ago, often with footwear to match the chant.

Now, though, the emotion on display is unadulterated anger rather than mocking.

Activists outside rallies openly talk about Obama as a terrorist, citing his name and purported ties to Islam in the fashion of the viral e-mails that have rocketed around the Internet for over a year now.

Some of this activity is finding its way into the events, too.

On Thursday, as one man in the audience asked a question about Obama’s associations, the crowd erupted in name-calling.

"Obama Osama!" one woman called out.

And twice this week, local officials have warmed up the crowd by railing against “Barack Hussein Obama.”

Both times, McCain’s campaign has issued statements disavowing the use of the Democrat’s full name. A McCain aide said they tell individuals speaking before every event not to do so. “Sometimes people just do what they want,” explained the aide.

The raw emotions worry some in the party who believe the broader swath of swing voters are far more focused on their dwindling retirement accounts than on Obama’s background and associations and will be turned off by footage of the McCain events.

John Weaver, McCain’s former top strategist, said top Republicans have a responsibility to temper this behavior.
OH, YEAH! I'm sure they will! I can't help but think this stoked-up, self-righteous fury is a media-nurtured head-game, deliberately planting doubts in the white electorate that a black president will "tear the country apart"--and other such sentiments I wrote about on Wednesday, describing the caller on Rush Limbaugh's show. And speaking of which, the Politico article quotes Rush Limbaugh, preaching to Senator McCain about the necessity of roughing up Senator Obama:
“You are running for president. You have a right to defend this country. You have a responsibility to defend this country and not just fulfill some dream you had eight years ago running for president against Bush. It's time to start naming names and explain what's actually going on, because, Sen. McCain, the people of this country are dead scared about what we face if you lose.”
Explain what's actually going on? That is code for --what? More about Bill Ayers?

Former Republican operative John J. Pitney Jr. is quoted as saying that the "crowds want a pit bull"--and McCain is falling down on the job:

“They know that when McCain has taken off the Senate mantle and put the stick to Obama (celebrity ad, as a case in point), we get movement in the polls,” said Rick Wilson, a GOP consultant not working on the presidential race. “They want McCain to call out Obama — on the Fannie/Freddie mess, on [Reverend Jeremiah] Wright, on Ayers, on guns, on [the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now] — because they know that if McCain says it, it penetrates the MSM filter. ... Only McCain and Palin can really drive that message.”

The two have begun to get more aggressive on many of these topics, with both discussing Ayers in multiple venues Thursday. The RNC is also going up for the first time with an ad featuring the former domestic terrorist.

It was enough to stir hope that McCain may stay on the offensive, even in Limbaugh, who has often criticized the Arizona senator for working with Democrats more than attacking them. The radio host praised his sometimes-nemesis for singling out Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) as partly responsible for the credit crisis.

“McCain/Palin fired back today in Waukesha, and 15 years of frustration is coming out joyously in the voices of GOP supporters at these rallies,” Limbaugh wrote in an e-mail, arguing that Republicans were fed up with having been portrayed as the bogeyman for myriad issues since the Clinton years.

But to the exasperation of many in the party, Obama’s pastor, the most damning of all his associations, remains off-limits, at the express desire of McCain. Palin ignored Wright and focused on Ayers when she was asked about the two in an interview Thursday with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. And McCain focused on Ayers only when he was asked an open-ended question at the town hall about Obama's “associations.”

“It is a shame McCain took Wright off the table,” lamented one prominent Republican operative not working on the race. “He is a legitimate issue, and we may look back and realize he was the issue that could have changed the race.”

For now, though, party members don't seem to be looking back with regret as much as fearing what lies ahead.

“McCain is behind in the polls, and the Republicans have no chance of regaining control of Congress,” Pitney noted. “Republicans are facing the prospect of unified Democratic control of the government for the first time since the first two Clinton years. And even then, Clinton’s agenda had moderate elements (e.g., [the North American Free Trade Agreement] and deficit reduction). With Obama, [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi in power, Republicans worry about a hard push for a hard-left agenda.”
Right now, Faux News polls give Obama a 7-point lead, and I am trying not to hyperventilate when I see Bill Ayers in anti-Obama commercials.

Are they kidding with the Ayers thing? He never killed anyone. Meanwhile, McCain hangs with people who approve of shooting abortion doctors and nobody says shit:

To be sure, there is nothing to suggest that McCain supports bombing abortion clinics. But there's also nothing to suggest Obama supports the Weather Underground bombings, which by the way were carried out when he was 8 years old. McCain at least was a sitting member of Congress who took a legislative position on clinic bombings when they were a current issue.
Today in Minnesota, McCain pleaded for civility at a rally and was BOOED by HIS OWN PEOPLE. (And I didn't see that on MSNBC but on Faux News!)

Stay tuned, sports fans.


thene said...

This might make you less scared! There's a few other really good posts in the 'Bradley Effect' category on that site, too. I <3 that page, I refresh it many times a day. ><

I just want this election to be over already, so the world can move on to something else.

CrackerLilo said...

Yeah, Thene, 24 days and I can't *wait*. I am scared by what I'm seeing in McCain/Palin rallies, too, and I really don't think this is what McCain wanted. However, he rented his soul to this pack of devils in exchange for his last chance to actually become president. I am trying not to succumb to my own fear. I don't want to be like these people.

LIVING IN FEAR SUCKS!, so says my favorite T-shirt ever.

YogaforCynics said...

Here's two headlines I just saw: "Obama opens up a two digit lead" and "McCain now trying to tie Michelle Obama to Ayers." Clearly, the uglier the McCain campaign gets, the higher Obama rises in the polls and the lower McCain sinks. In other words, the people who should be afraid--and are becoming increasingly afraid--are Republicans who see the wackos on their side of the fence horrifying those closer to the center.

So, all I can say to the Republican smear-mongers is KEEP IT UP! Keep up the Nuremberg-style hate rallies! Keep using Obama's middle name as if it's important! Keep calling him Osama! Spread the word about Obama being a terrorist, a criminal, a communist, a Muslim, a radical Christian, an atheist, a Satanist, a racist, a male chauvinist, gay, not really an American citizen, whatever crap you can come up with!

mikeb302000 said...

Some months ago I wrote a post about the millions who intend to vote for Obama but in the final moment in the voting booth hesitate, begin to shake and in a paroxysm of fear and panic hit the McCain button.

Since then, I myself have gotten so comfortable with Barack that I honestly don't even notice he's black.

I know that sounds bad, but I was raised in NJ in an Italian-American racist society. That crap is deep in the brain. I believe Barack Obama is so great that all but the most hardened and unrepentant racists must have shared my development and will successfully vote for him.

JoJo said...

I left you an award on my blog, under today's post.

Also, I posted a Dead album on Facebook. :)

Renee said...

What I am about to say is going to make one unpopular girl but here goes...I am seriously sick of people expressing surprise at the racism that has been displayed in this election. I am tired of hearing, I can't believe that it is that bad from white people. Seriously racism is something that POC live with daily and it effects every aspect of our lives, funny how we are not surprised. I believe that because whites have the ability to tune out racism they are blind to exactly how pervasive it is.
For all you praying for Obama to win, as far as racism goes, it won't change a damn thing. He is not some sort of limitus test on the degree of racism despite what the media is trying to push.
I am further annoyed with so called white liberals that believe that voting for Obama gives them anti-racist cred. Seriously being committed to equality is about so much more than "casting the right vote" but you would never believe that from listening to the media or read certain progressive blogs. Using Obama as proof that you are not a racist is just as bad as referring to him by his middle name.

Natasha said...

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Daisy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daisy said...

Renee, I'm not surprised, I'm grossed out.

I do admit surprise that McCain is apparently freaked out about the fruits of his own campaign's labors, though. HE seems genuinely surprised by the racism of his own crowds, which makes me wonder if he will dial back any of the nastiness? According to MSNBC, his campaign-workers have no intention of doing so, even if McCain is extremely queasy about there is tension within the inside-circle of the McCain camp over the dirty politics, which I find fascinating.

The Bill Ayers thing, as I wrote before, took me totally off guard, though. I find it patently bizarre--left field indeed. As they keep repeating, Obama was a mere child when Bernadine, or rather, excuse me!--some strange unidentified woman, blew up a Pentagon toilet with nobody in it.

But you can hang with people who think shooting abortion doctors is moral, and it's all good.

I mean, HUH?

mike4mike said...

Daisy, the point about Bill Ayers and the other Chicago radicals is not that Ayers conducted bombings because they thought it was the thing to do at the time, but that that class of radicals think different from mainstream America. They pull comments out of context and then complain that the opponent isn't fighting fair. It would do you good to learn the ideological heritage of the candidates, since training embraced becomes character, an indication of where an uncertain leader will turn in times of crisis. That's why we want the Obamas to come clean about knowing, working with and spending time with the Ayerss (which they clearly did). They can disavow the tactics of the Weathermen, but ignoring truth looks like they're hiding something.

Daisy said...

Excuse me, but you are mistaken.

Did you ever hear the song "Monster" by Steppenwolf? I mention it (as a totally random example) because I first heard it at a redneck party with a bunch of bikers drinking beer. I thought, WOW, since some of them were enthusiastically singing along with it, even the ones with confederate flag tattoos. And this was Bill Ayers' era.

"but that that class of radicals think different from mainstream America."

Speaking of 2008, you would be right... in fact, any time after Reagan was inaugurated, you would be right. BUT AT THE TIME???? You are dead-ass wrong. As the poet-laureate of the age so memorably sang, "There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in the air." Hippies, bikers, housewives who frequented the same beauty salon my grandmother did, my neighbors, et. al. talked about revolution as if it might be inevitable, and there was even a revolutionary faction of ex-GIs against the war. Even serial killers (think: the most famous of our time) believed in revolution and made that part of their psychosis. IT WAS VERY DIFFERENT THAN NOW, and even my Republican grandfather from West Virginia thought there could be revolution.

Can I ask how old you are, and if you were there at the time? How old were you in the 70s?

As I wrote here, I am getting fed up with the rewrites of history by people who have it wrong in countless ways. In addition, you are applying the morality of NOW to the morality of THEN, and as we all know, 20/20 hindsight is perfect.

Crossposted at Mike's for emphasis.

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well this relaly make me scare

mike4mike said...

Long reply on the other post, as a 30+ year student of society and government, someone who lived through it and learned something.

mike4mike said...

Renee, I have friends who turned racist when Affirmative Action gave their job promotion to a "brother" because of skin color, not merit. They and others are tired of Rev Jesse telling unemployables that work is for suckers, and that bad choices are rewarded with Community Action Grants.

Most of the folks I talk to distrust Obama for what he says (and doesn't say). It's not that he's only half white, but that he's less than half right. said...

Is it possible, that Obama's lead could evaporate on election day because of Bradley-Wilder effect? Or nowadays Americans are significantly less reluctant to vote for an African-American? Vote here -