Friday, October 31, 2008

 

Worrying About the 'Bradley Effect'

The 'Bradley Effect' still haunts the minds of many Democrats as the days left before the ballot reduce to 4 with Obama leading 49.8-43.7. Tom Bradley was the black candidate for California governor in 1982. Right into the final stages he led in the polls but on the day failed to win because whites who said they would vote for him failed to do so. They were ashamed to tell pollsters of their racism; a bit like voters were relectant to admit they were voting Tory in 1992 as this might suggest they were selfish bastards.

In that California election a big slice for the 'undecided' broke for the Republican, George Deukmejian, and that denied Bradley his expected prize. Today the always thoughful Martin Kettle suggests however that race is not a crucial issue in this election.

Kettle points out that Obama is doing much better than his Democratic predecedssors in coralling the white vote. White Americans voted 61-38 for Bush in 2004, 57-40 for Bush in 2000. Currently Obama has a one point lead amoung whites over McCain, reassures the Guardian columnist: 'This isn't at core a vote about colour' he concludes. Hope you're right is what I say, given that whites might easily be doing the 'Bradley' thing again in the polls cited. Kettle rounds off his piece with:

Americans have spent a long time getting to know Barack Obama. The evidence is that they like what they see, and that they are about to do something both right and great.

Oh, I do hope he's right but I can't get out of my mind that devastating paragraph in Geroge Monbiot's most recent column:

Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people. US education, like the US health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on earth, one adult in five believes the sun revolves round the earth; only 26% accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection; two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map; two-thirds of US voters cannot name the three branches of government; the maths skills of 15-year-olds in the US are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries of the OECD. But this merely extends the mystery: how did so many US citizens become so stupid, and so suspicious of intelligence?.

I tell myself that while being one of the stupidest nations on earth the Americans are also far and away the cleverest, as their wonderful universities and leading research proves, not to mention their huge pantheon of Nobel Laureates. I just pray that on 4th November the cleverer ones will be voting in greater numbers than the other lot.

Comments:
The so-called "Bradley Effect" is considerably more contraversial than most people think. My understanding is that the polling in the Bradley election was flawed in a big way.

In fact, from my point of view, Obama seems to have his fair share of the moron vote. Most of them are young and have never had any interest in politics. After Obama, most of them will switch off. They consider themselves educated because they have been to university. As someone who works in universities, I don't need to tell you that this correlation is not as clear-cut as most people believe. In fact most of them seem to talk about "Change", without having the intelligence to ask "what change?". Most of them are clueless I'm afraid. Collectively, they are the best argument I have seen for raising the voting age.

For what it is worth(ie.nothing), I think Obama will hold on. I mean, come on, people just aren't going to vote for more of this. If the Democrats, in these circumstances, can not win the White House, and sweep the Legislatures, then they really will be finished. I say all these things, not from my personal convictions, but from an analysis of how people seem to be thinking. Fair people know that McCain is not Bush. Obama's portrayal of him as the same is entirely dishonest and I am surprised more prospective Obama supporters cannot see through this false argument(especially considering so many of them consider themselves to be so cerebral). McCain is clearly a maverick and has disagreed with Bush publicly on so many issues. Most people who have done any rsearch on this know that McCain despises Bush for his campaigning tactics in the Primaries of 2000.

In fact Skipper, your analysis, although thorough as ever, seems to me to actually explain the nature of the Bradley Effect in a way that you don't intend. I suspect McCain will poll better on Tuesday than he has been predicted to. But it won't be racism. Your claim that "intelligent" people support Obama in disproportionate numbers, which is supported by most of the media and celebrity establishment, might perhaps explain why people would be unlikely to admit their support for McCain. Perhaps their decision to support McCain has been made for the most sincere reasons, but they are reluctant to state it because of the McCarthy-like hunt for non-existent racism.

Most of the apparently "clever" people told us that Jimmy Carter was the best President America could have in 1980, and that only hics would vote Reagan. Oh how wrong they were. Millions of people in Eastern Europe live free lives today, because of Regan ad his bold ambition, rather than Carter and his underestimation of American. Barak Obama wants to abandon the people of Iraq to near certain dictatorship, probably with a fairly nasty religious bent. There is nothing intelligent about this, not to mention courageous or audacious.

I guess I would rather be thought of as stupid than be wrong. I will continue to dream of the reaction of the media lovies and the righteous establishment if McCain can turn this around.
 
Michael
As always your views are trenchant and clearly expressed. I agree totally that McCain is miles away from Bush both in terms of belief and ability(the latter would not be hard you'd agree I guess). McCain is essentially an able maverick and always has been an 'outsider' as any reading of his biography reveals. In a 'normal' election, he would stand a really good chance of getting in as indeed, he should have done in 2000, when the Republican machine opted for Bush jnr for some eccentric reason and approved trhe rubbishing of a good man.

Incidentally, I'm looking forward to seeing the Oliver Stone film on Bush: 'W'. It's supposed to be a fair treatment of his life and times but very funny too. Maybe that's just fair comment.
 
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