If the election were today Sen. Barack Obama would probably win by a few percentage points.‚ However on November 4, the ‘Bradley effect’ could end an Obama/Biden administration before it even has the chance to start.
This phenomenon is a terrible thing.‚ Pre-election polls predict wide margins of victory for black candidates only to see them lose or win by little.‚ This change is caused by one or both of the following: people lie causing polls to show more support for black candidates than there actually is, or on election day voters draw back after realizing their vote could lead to a black mayor, governor or president.
It all started in Los Angeles during the 1982 election for governor.‚ African-American candidate Tom Bradley was leading the polls up to election day.‚ On voting day exit polls heavily predicted his victory, so heavily in fact that television stations and newspapers prematurely branded him as the new governor.
Bradley lost by about 100,000 votes.
From this, according to the New York Times, “emerged what seemed like a pattern.”‚ ‚ In the Chicago mayoral race of 1983, the New York mayoral race of 1989 and the 1989 race for governor in Virginia, black candidates were predicted to have much more support than they really had on election day.
So the question remains, why do those polled lie to pollsters?‚ The New York Times asks, is it because they think its ‘right’ to support the minority?‚ Some probably do.‚ Some may think if they don’t, they’ll seem racist.
Are those who change their minds at the booth just not ready to see a black mayor, governor or president?
Do people say they will vote for the black candidate when they have no intention to?
It’s hard to characterize an entire voting base.
Obama could face the undeserving repercussions of the Bradley effect in states that usually vote republican, like Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, more than anywhere else.
It could also hurt him in key states like New Hampshire and Ohio, states that are also still too close to call but aren’t historically defined to one party.
Whatever the reason for this false support, let’s hope Bradley takes the day off November 4.