Thoughts that get me out of bed to blog in the wee small hours

All these news reports recently about the Bradley Effect…it just struck me: are some media using earnest explanations of said Bradley Effect as an opportunity to remind the American VoterTM that that nice Obama they’re planning to vote for is, after all, still a Scary Black ManTM? Just in case those American VotersTM hadn’t fully appreciated that in the past, other European-American types have been unable to bring themselves to vote for Scary Black MenTM, even though they had (just being polite, eh) encouraged the candidate by telling pollsters that they would?

Or is it just the media enjoying a good old waffle about a political theory that sounds authoritative but which perhaps has its origins only in pollsters coming up with plausible-sounding reasons that their polls were not aligned with actual results?



Categories: media, Politics

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11 replies

  1. Well Obama has enough of a lead in the polls now that he’d probably still win even if the Bradley effect is in play.
    Not that certain racist elements aren’t doing their best at the moment– I saw an absolutely horrifying YouTube video yesterday, with audio from the Howard Stern show(with some random pictures) of Stern going into Queens and asking three black Obama supporters if they (a) supported Obama’s pro-life stance, (b) supported his position on staying in Iraq, and (c) believed that Sarah Palin was a good VP for him (they all said yes). They also found one black McCain supporter who said he was pro-choice, wanted to get out of Iraq, and thought Joe Biden was a good VP pick.
    Now, I’m not even sure that this was genuine– I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it was a complete hoax. But even if it was genuine, it’s pretty clear that, much like the Chaser, they only broadcast the people who give stupid answers, and they probably have heaps of discarded audio of people who did, in fact, know what they are talking about. Unlike the Chaser, however, this interviewer ONLY interviewed black people, and then made out (in a VERY thinly veiled way) that these people were uninformed only because they were black, and that black people were only voting for Obama based on skin colour. He didn’t ask any white people, of course, becasue he simply assumed that only black people can be uninformed voters.
    It was really vile.
    Here’s a link, in case any of you enjoy feeling nauseous.

  2. Not that this contradicts your point about the reinforcement of racism inherent in talking about the racism of the Other, but the Bradley Effect is also invoked when “socially conservative” propositions are on the ballot. See, for example,
    California’s Prop 22 in 2000 and Prop 8 in this election: http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1299870.html. I’m not sure, however, that it’s not simply a slightly different rhetorical technique, rather than entirely different in concept: After all, reminding voters that at least 12% MORE people voted against marriage equality than the 53% who admitted they were going to can create an “in good company” mindset.
    MatildaZQs last blog post..The Rock Loves Pie: Alton Brown’s "Super Apple Pie"

  3. Olbermann had an interview with a prof about the alleged bradley effect last night. It’s “Can Obama hold his lead?” in the Countdown section here:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3096434/

  4. I’ve seen nothing in the media here on the Bradley effect, incidentally.
    My perspective: coming from a state that voted en masse two years ago for a gay marriage ban, but went for Kerry, has a Dem governor, and two Dem senators, including one of the most liberal in the whole federal government…
    By now, the die is cast, and as Beppie pointed out, the margin of Bradley Effect voters is probably not enough to throw things towards McCain. Right now, independent voters are more afraid of a long-term recession and losing healthcare benefits than they are of looking PC. McCain being consistently behind on providing any decent answers regarding actual problems has put him in this position. It’s a little hard to care too much about race when the black guy has at least some ideas and the old white guy and his polarizing running mate are being ineffectual.

  5. That said, I have no desire to call down the wrath of the whatever down from high atop the thing, so I will knock on wood.

  6. Its on! Scheiffer starts by asking for no talking points. Good luck with that, Bobby!

  7. McCain just did his “That one” face. Creepy. Also, longwinded and boring. Also, why are his eyelids so white?

  8. I heard someone on NPR this morning opining that the opposite of the Bradley Effect will also be in play. That is, people will say to their friends that no WAY will they vote for a n****r, and then they will go in and secretly pull the Obama lever.

    That seems eminently right to me.

  9. All the speculation on the Bradley Effect (sometimes the Wilder Effect) seems off the mark to me. It implies there is some predetermined electoral handicap that every black candidate has to reckon with when running for office. It ignores a lot of evidence that people often vote for a candidate rather than a stereotype.
    Obama is going to lose some potential votes because of pure racism. Will it be enough to tip the election? I don’t think so.
    First, if there really was a Bradley Effect, I would think it would be a constant. Racists are racists and would not change their minds over the course of the campaign. The widening Obama lead seems to indicate a real shift in opinion, in particular among undecideds.
    Second, it ignores a lot of evidence that McCain’s negative campaigning has turned off a lot of people. This NYT article cites a lot of evidence that voters are largely turned off by McCain’s attacks and consider McCain spends too much time attacking Obama than talking about what he would do as President. That reaction is particularly bad for McCain when the world is in the midst of a financial crisis and he has the two big jobs of distancing himself from Republican history and orthodoxy and has no compelling policy prescriptions.
    Obama is not Tom Bradley or Doug Wilder.

  10. are some media using earnest explanations of said Bradley Effect as an opportunity to remind the American VoterTM that that nice Obama they’re planning to vote for is, after all, still a Scary Black ManTM?

    I live in Alabama, and the Bradley Effect has been on our local news (mentioning a local race as well).
    As far as presidential reporting goes – by now, the media have been covering Obama for so long, I’m willing to bet some of the playtime for this theory is simply because they’re glad to have a new/different angle to report on. I don’t remember it being mentioned in the primaries, but the past 2 weeks, I’ve heard it on national news quite a bit.

  11. I don’t remember it being mentioned in the primaries
    I do remember some discussion of something similar in the New Hampshire primaries, where it was speculated that a lot of voters– particularly female voters– felt that they had to publically say they supported Obama, while they actually cast their ballot for Clinton. The difference here, however, is that they weren’t voting for Clinton because of Obama’s race– they simply felt that they’d be harrassed (accused of “vagina voting”) if they openly supported Clinton.

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