Monday, November 3, 2008

'Bradley Effect' Fiction

While conventional wisdom is that no Republican could win in this environment, none of the pre-convention polling data supports that conclusion. True, generic Democrats were beating generic Republicans by a large margin, but when the names were attached (Barack Obama and John McCain) the polls tightened to within a few points. The proof of this is the numerous almost countless stories during the summer asking why Obama's lead wasn't greater. The media then answered their own question and blamed it on "white blue-collar working class" voters convincing themselves Obama couldn't "close the deal" Unfortunately for John McCain, it appears he believed them even though there wasn't much evidence to support the claims that whites weren't going to vote for a black candidate. This may prove to be the first of many arguments that supports banning TV sets from campaign offices.

There has been a lot of hype about an anticipated "Bradley effect" also known as the "Wilder effect". The premise of these theories is that whites will tell pollsters they will vote for the black candidate, but in the voting booth, don't. Analysis of previous elections finds that this phenomenon was as high as 3.1 percent prior to 1996 but has been reduced to nearly insignificant now.

An analysis of the polls prior to the primary elections of 2008 showed no evidence whatsoever of a "Bradley effect" when compared to actual results. It should be readily apparent to any campaign analyst that a "Bradley effect" if existent, was not going to be a major factor with Barack Obama. The first sign of this was Iowa. Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses by significant margins. Iowa has a white population of nearly 95% and an African American population of nearly 2.5%. This media driven hype plays a big part in why McCain's campaign believes they still have a prayer and yet in State after State during the primary campaign, with the one exception of New Hampshire, Obama consistently ended up on election night +/- 2 points of where the polls had him. Even in New Hampshire, Obama received his predicted total but the large undecided number broke for Hillary Clinton. McCain enjoys no such undecided

So what does the summer polling tell us? Simply put, the polling, when analyzed by any metric, demonstrates that while a generic Republican should be in trouble, this Republican was different. This Republican could have won. In other words John McCain's narrative, war hero, statesman, straight-talking maverick, brought him 98% of the way back from the hole the generic Republican was in. What is killing John McCain's campaign is, frankly, John McCain's campaign.


Intrade said...

John said :

    Caucuses are public events where you declare your preference out in the open. So the Bradley Effect reasoning would be that people would overwhelmingly want to be seen as supporting the black guy, which is what in fact happened. But a private voting booth is another matter; this is why Iowa may not be as pro-Obama as people think.

Intrade said...

Michael Higby said :

    What's hurt McCain most in Iowa, my father's home state, is that McCain has consistently been again farm subsidies, especially for ethanol production. There is no economic basis for them and ethanol as a fuel source is highly problematic and inefficient. That being said the farm dependent state, rather than get off their lazy asses and find some new source of income, will time and time again vote for any politician, Rep or Dem, black or white, etc. who offers up the goodies. So this hurt McCain both in the caucuses and in the general in Iowa, but give him credit for being consistent and not just looking to get votes.

Intrade said...

Jim said :

    The larger point is that white voters will not run from Obama, in fact the evidence is just the opposite. Obama is now leading among blue-collar voters in some polls.

Intrade said...

Michael Higby said :

    In other polls however McCain has increased his lead among white men. If anything polling has become more of an art than a science and we'll see what happens. The worst thing will be if Obama loses or even if he wins in a squeaker, most Democrats will blame racism as if that could be the only reason anyone would oppose "The One." Most Democrats don't recognize that folks could be opposed to Obama's platform (what little there is) or quite frankly even his qualifications. Nope, the liberal pundits say that universally is a mask for racism.

Intrade said...

Ian said :

    If you don't like Obama, there are plenty of reasons not to for even the most apathetic voter. Everything from "Secret Muslim", to "pals around with terrorists" to "socialist" has probably found their way to low-info voters. If the rumor mill and the McCain campaign achieved anything it was to make sure the Bradley effect didn't exist. Bradley effect *requires* people to feel sheepish about voting against the black candidate.

There was an anti-Bradley effect (often in the form of black people saying their undecided and then voting Obama).

@John your right, Iowa is a horrible example of no Bradley effect. The fact that all the polls for normal elections outside of NH were accurate shows the lack of Bradley this time around.

Intrade said...

James said :

    Although I don't put a lot of weight into polls, because they can be biased; I can acknowledge that the trend associated with polls can be somewhat useful. The "Bradley Effect" is actually an unfounded or groundless hypothesis. Actual research has been conducted concerning this issue and it was discovered that "yes", Bradley did have a large lead over his oponent several weeks prior to the election. Most took it for granted that Bradley was going to win the lead was so great. Very few polls were conducted as the election neared. However, the few polls that continued to be taken, began to shift in favor of Bradley's opponent (can't remember his name). Days before the election, the opponent was showing tied or a few points ahead of Bradley.

Intrade said...

Derek said :

    This article makes a point that I hope Republicans learn. They picked the perfect candidate to compete with Barack Obama. The only guy who's personal story could stand up to his, and a guy that could run as a moderate during an election year where Republicans simply weren't going to get it done.

But I don't blame the media for why he's run his campaign like he has. Obama was smart enough to know he didn't need Hillary to win, so why was Mccain dumb enough to think he could steal those voters?