Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Episode 11: The Bradley Effect


The Bradley Effect: Does it still hold true in modern politics?

The Bradley Effect…is a proposed explanation for a 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 some voter polls, the Bradley effect refers to an alleged tendency on the part of some 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.

There could be an argument made for the Bradley Effect in ’82. The social atmosphere in America was very different. There was a palpable tension between blacks and whites in the 80s that reached its boiling point with Rodney King in 1991. American culture was in somewhat of a “social recession” following the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Crime was increasing with each passing year, an if the music of time wass any indication, there was much social unrest.

Much has changed in two decades however. Massive gains in communications and information technology has made the globe much smaller and interconnected. The racial divides are beginning to fade, or at the very least, acknowledged. Companies can hire employees in several different countries, with all members communicating in real time. And with Wikipedia, Google, blogs, and other information sources, we all have equal access to the same information.

Therefore, in our current social atmosphere, I believe the Bradley Effect is irrelevant. More now than ever, Americans have the emotional and mental capacity to judge not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. I think the polls are very real and Bradley free. What use does Virginia in lying to the pollsters?! They have been a red state for 40 years. Now Obama is as many as 10 points up? How can anyone believe the Bradley effect holds any water in today’s atmosphere? If it were true, Obama would’ve been finished long ago.
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