New Hampshire Was Not About Race

This is  getting ridiculous, the idea that voters told pollsters (anonymously) they would vote for Barack Obama, an African-American, for president, only to turn racist once they went into the voting booth (anonymously) and pulled the lever for a white woman instead.

Also known as the “Bradley Effect”, this phenomenon says that white voters will lie to pollsters and say they support a black candidate (to assuage racist guilt, one would assume), only to go into the voting booth and vote for the white candidate (to act on racist feelings).

In some rather infamous elections in the past (the name derives from Tom Bradley, Democratic nominee for Governor in California in 1982), this hypothesis was used to explain why black candidates went into (general) election days with huge leads, only to either barely win or in fact lose (see also: elections of Douglas Wilder, David Dinkins, Harvey Gantt, et al).

I mention that this is a hypothesis because there has never been any evidence to show that it happened in those races above. From a methodological standpoint, in fact, it’s virtually impossible to measure and prove anyway. And in the races mentioned, all were general elections. The idea that this would happen in a Democratic primary, with a bunch of granola tree-hugging liberals (!), is even more ludicrous. Why Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center would not even mention this in his op-ed this morning is stunning.

Does or could race have played a part? For a small, statistically insignificant population, sure. In fact the race of the pollster and how the questions were being phrased could also effect the outcome as well. But frankly, the best evidence that this “Bradley Effect” is wrong comes from the very polls that are being so disparaged today from before the election (see also: Michael Fauntroy).

I refer to my post here regarding the predictions, but if you look at them closely, virtually every poll put Obama as receiving between 35-40 % vote, which was, within a point or two, close to the actual 36% he received (factoring in the margin of error, it’s a wash).

In other words, no one flocked away from Obama who said they were going to support him. Statistically, it wasn’t even measurable. However, the large undecided contingent definitely moved, and seemed to go with Clinton (for reasons outlined here yesterday) and in fact, people left Edwards and the other candidates in droves as well (this is an odd story, but the collapse of Edwards’ support isn’t really being discussed anywhere).

I’ll be the first on it when the “race card” gets pulled out (and you know it will if Obama wins the nomination and goes to the general election), but the notion that Democratic white folks up in New Hampshire “freaked out” at the last moment and voted for a white woman instead, is as laughable as it is outrageous.

Cross posted from AoF

Bookmark and Share

Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to New Hampshire Was Not About Race

  1. Tom Maguire says:

    Re the stunning Mr. Kohut – his Gallup organization was of by 17 points when Bush beat Dole in 1988:

    For the primary, the Gallup Organization put together a syndicate of smaller newspapers, radio stations and television stations which could not afford to do day-by-day polls alone. Results Were Reverse

    The final Gallup poll, published by participating newspapers on Monday, showed Mr. Dole leading Mr. Bush by 35 percent to 27 percent. In fact, the results were the reverse: Mr. Bush won the primary by 38 percent to Mr. Dole’s 29 percent.

    Andrew Kohut, president of the Gallup organization, said his company conducted telephone interviews until 4 P.M. Sunday. But polling on Tuesday among voters who had already cast their ballots showed that as many as one-third of the Republican voters decided Monday or Tuesday.

    Mr. Kohut also said his company did not put enough stress on data indicating that a majority of Mr. Bush’s supporters were strongly committed, while only a minority of Mr. Dole’s backers were firmly committed.

    ”I was dismayed about the fact that we didn’t put enough emphasis on the potential for things to turn around literally overnight,” Mr. Kohut said.

    No racism, I guess.

  2. Tom Maguire

    Thanks for the quote and the link. It’s going to be a long year…. Personally I chalk what happened in the NH up to the women. Polls don’t always turn out right, the majority were wrong about Kerry in Iowa in ’04.