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Assessing the Bradley Effect « The Washington Independent

Jul 31, 2020
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Throughout this election cycle, many Democrats have assumed that Sen. Barack Obama must take a lead of more than one or two percentage points in the polls into Election Day because his actual numbers will get knocked down a notch by the so-called Bradley Effect— the idea that some voters disingenuously tell pollsters that they plan to vote for a black candidate for fear of appearing racist if they responded otherwise.
Yet as Sherry Bebitch Jeffe points out in a detailed historical analysis, the 1982 electoral loss of black candidate Tom Bradley gives little evidence for the effect that took his name. Instead, Bradley’s loss can be explained by a combination of guns and absentee ballots.
But Jeffe lays it out more articulately than I could, so be sure to take a look at her piece.
The best analysis I’ve seen of the potential Bradley Effect in the 2008 presidential election comes from Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com. Looking at the Democratic primary, he argues that there was no such effect, although unlike Jeffe he believes that the phenomenon played a large role in elections in the 1980s and 1990s.
Hajra Shannon

Hajra Shannon

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Hajra Shannona is a highly experienced journalist with over 9 years of expertise in news writing, investigative reporting, and political analysis. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and has contributed to reputable publications focusing on global affairs, human rights, and environmental sustainability. Hajra's authoritative voice and trustworthy reporting reflect her commitment to delivering insightful news content. Beyond journalism, she enjoys exploring new cultures through travel and pursuing outdoor photography
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