Ghost of Bradley Present

Friday, October 24, 2008


Everyone's speculating on whether this election will produce a Bradley effect, a phenomenon where white voters tell pollsters they'll vote for the black candidate but actually pull the lever for the white candidate. The term comes from Tom Bradley's 1982 California gubernatorial run, but Democratic and Republican strategists who worked on that campaign tell us there was no Bradley effect even for Bradley. And Nate Silver of the blog 538 says the misnamed phenomenon hasn't been observed since the early 90s.
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Comments [7]

airmax from

Very honored to see your blog.

May. 07 2010 08:29 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Caught a segment of a Fox broadcaster, on the Daily Show, showing shame for having to air the ignorant, ill-informed, nakedly, unapologetically, unrepentantly racist Joe the Plummer agreeing with another know-nothing questioner that electing Barack Obama means "death to Israel", despite no factual basis for these opinions.

I doubt that there will be a "Bradley effect" in this election but I fear that we will discover a hardcore, virulent subculture which is quite comfortable in its own skin. So comfortable, it needn't even acknowledge the issue; it's assumed.

Oct. 31 2008 04:18 AM
Martin from Austria

Fantastic segment. I refer to it here:

I thought OTM listeners might be interested.

Oct. 28 2008 01:15 PM
Tor from NJ

I have to believe that Americans today can look past "race" and focus on the substance of any politician running for any post. I know I do.

Oct. 27 2008 11:19 AM
Phillip from Silver Spring, Maryland

This is why I LOVE "On the Media." This story fits into a suite of of stories that OTM has covered including,

- "Uncorrectable,"

- "Marginal Understanding,""

It is disturbing for me to listen to news now armed with this information. Too often, reporters and news organizations are oblivious to science/psychology and proceed to create ignorant commentary.

Just now, I was watching a program I have not watched in some time: "The Mclaughlin Group." In discussing the "Bradley Effect" it became painfully obvious that this was a subject that none in the group had a true grasp of (though Pat Buchanan came close). Nevermind, though. They expressed their ignorant opinions forcefully.

I'll be going back to NOT watching the MG and spending my time with OTM.

This stuff should be published as a series of essays in a book. Any recommendations out there?

(And now I'll be making my donation to WNYC.)

Oct. 26 2008 12:12 PM
Amy from Brooklyn, NY

There was a comment made early on in this story about how Mr. Mervin Field anticipated a 7-8% win by Bradley the day before the election. I wonder how much commentator sensationalist coverage of how well or poorly X candidate is doing in the pools affects voter confidence in how the election will turn out on election day. I understand in this world of 24-hour news coverage, every reporter, pundit et al. wants something to say and to be remembered for their cleverness in interpreting the data. But as what cost?

By claiming a comfortable win by Bradley before the election, perhaps Mr. Field himself contributed some part to the election upset by providing Bradley voters with a false sense of confidence, with the result of lesser turnout?. I recall this segment discussed that there was a higher turnout of Republican voters in this election, but was there also a reduced turnout of Democrat voters?

As a registered voter of the East Coast, I am quite bothered by minute-by-minute Election Night Coverage in which east coast states are called before polls close in the west (with additional recognition of the challenges of exit poll predicting addresses in a previous OTM segment). I would hope that early east coast predictions of the race would not dissuade west coast voters from participating in the election, but I cannot be comforted by hope alone.

Oct. 26 2008 11:07 AM
Matt from Arlington, Virginia

The Wilder or a Bradley Effect discussed in this segment can not possible occur in this election cycle. Governor Wilder and Mayor Bradley both had long careers in public service including executive experience. What ever the public support for Senator Obama is built on it can not be executive experience or a significant length of public service.

Almost all of the examples of high profile African American candidates in the 1990's were for legislative elections, not executive positions.

To attribute the lack of a Wilder or Bradley effect to evolving issues of race, racism, and discrimination denigrates the hard work of Governor Wilder and Mayor Bradley that built up political records worth running on and gives a pass to a candidate that claims his national political experience to be a speech in 2004 and the vetting process of the democrat primary.

There is no Wilder or Bradley effect in this election not because of a different set of policy issues or different manifestations of discrimination but the lack of a paper trail on all of the issues for Senator Obama.

OTM should recognize these differences in candidates should be known if there is to be free and fair coverage of this election and the two competing candidates.

To all the tough responses, I vote present.

Oct. 25 2008 11:58 PM

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