Ghost of Bradley Effect

Friday, July 03, 2009


We recorded this interview during the presidential campaign when the "Bradley effect" was getting a lot of media play. The term comes from Tom Bradley's 1982 California gubernatorial campaign, in which the discrepancy between polling (which predicted he was ahead) and the actual result (he lost) was attributed to white voters not being able to pull the lever for a black candidate. 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 1990s.

Comments [2]

Jackie from Brooklyn

What about the David Dinkins effect?
David Dinkins won the NYC mayoral election by a narrow margin in 1990 but was expected to win by a large margin. Political analysts specifically blamed it on white liberals lying to pollsters.
He lost his bid for a 2nd term with election results matching the poll numbers. The difference, according to many pundits at the time, was that people could vote against him based on his record without sounding racist.

Jul. 06 2009 05:16 PM
Rick Evans from Massachusetts

I find it hilariously ludicrous that a Republican strategist blames the persistence of belief in the Bradley effect on paranoid groups who want to keep race front and center. With jackals and hyenas like Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris conniving to suppress the black vote paranoia is certainly justified. And, Katherine Harris is hardly an isolated case. The Nixon Southern Strategy persists.

Jul. 05 2009 05:04 PM

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