Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Bradley Effect May Be Exaggerated

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on October 21, 2008
Tom Bradley

Tom Bradley

We have a wealth of rationales out there, all ready to be used to help “explain” McPalin’s “victory.”

First off, there’s the much-exaggerated “Bradley effect.” According to that theory, black candidates do better in the pre-election polls than on Election Day, because white racist voters won’t admit to pollsters that they’d never vote for anybody black. So they lie, and say they will, and then, once in the polling booth, allow the Inner Klansman to decide for them.

That theory is extremely tenuous–“the Bradley effect,” it now turns out, not even actually applying to Tom Bradley. True, the former chief of the LAPD, who ran for mayor, did better in the pre-election polls than on Election Day. What sank his bid, however, was a burst of negative news stories just before that day, which is the kind of thing that tends to sink campaigns regardless of their color.

There are, in fact, just two contests whose outcomes might have been decided by stealth racism: Doug Wilder’s campaign for governor of Virginia, and David Dinkins‘s first mayoral run in New York City. Both those 1989 campaigns were winners, but with victories far closer than the polls had indicated. (In his second mayoral run, on the other hand, Dinkins did exactly as the polls had said he would.)

Thus the theory is a weak one, based, as it is, on just two cases–and two cases from twenty years ago, and not featuring a candidate as gifted as Obama, who’s demonstrated a rare ability to break through in “red” regions. (Back then, moreover, the economy was not in catastrophic shape, nor was the GOP a party of the fringe.)

But, if McPalin wins, we will hear endlessly about “the Bradley effect,” as if it were as sound a theory as, say, gravity, or natural selection. And we will surely also hear about the multitudes of “values voters” pouring forth to vote for Sarah Palin: just as they did, allegedly, four years ago for Bush (although there’s not a shred of evidence to back that up). And, likewise, we will also surely hear that all the vicious smears–re: Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers and ACORN, blah blah blah–helped do Obama in, just as the Swift boat campaign did in Kerry (even though, in fact, John Kerry won).

And, no doubt, we will also hear that there was something wrong with all those exit polls (assuming that some early “unadjusted” numbers do leak out, and complicate the fiction of McPalin’s startling “win”). Thus we will hear once again how wrong such polls are, even though, in fact, they tend to be quite accurate–far more reliable than the preposterous numbers that we get from Diebold’s and ES&S’s wares, and the central tabulators, and the electronic voter rolls and all the other crappy hardware, and corrupted software, that is now used in our elections.

As for the exit polls that actually foretold a Kerry victory four years ago, Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss made a very solid case that they were right. They made that case in their book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?a book whose arguments stand unrefuted, as, to this day, the media has

blacked it out.

And, to this day, the raw data from the National Exit Poll four years ago has never been released. If the NEP would simply make it public, we could finally determine whether those polls really were as “inexact” as everybody in the media kept saying then, and keeps on saying now. That line, as we see here, continues to be used to make the exit polls–all exit polls–seem dubious, which is, of course, quite helpful to all those now hard at work to rig the vote.

From Ken Anderson:
Hi Mark,   

Efforts to preemptively paint exit polls as flawed and inaccurate have hit the headlines.  Did you know that exit polling, used throughout the world as a check on election fraud, is a “notoriously inexact science”? 


News outlets sweat over exit poll accuracy
Media outlets are preparing for the possibility that their Election Day surveys could be skewed because of overstated support for Barack Obama, largely because of the enthusiasm of his supporters. While exit polling is a notoriously inexact science–early exit poll results suggested John Kerry would be elected president in 2004–the introduction of several new variables, ranging from the zeal of Obama’s supporters to his racial background to widespread early voting, is causing concerns among those charged with conducting the surveys and the networks that will be reporting them. “It’s in some ways the flip side of non-cooperation,” said one pollster involved in preparations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “It’s over-cooperation by certain people.”
Unlike a traditional poll that asks voters who they intend to support, exit polls are taken outside the polling place immediately after voters have cast their ballots. The interviewing begins when the polls open in the morning and lasts throughout the day until shortly before the polls close.   

The exit polls are conducted by the National Election Pool (NEP), a consortium of ABC News, Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News formed in 2003.


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