PC Effect, Not Bradley Effect, May Haunt Obama

Barack Obama has recently improved in the polls and is strongly favored to win our presidential election. Should he fail in his attempt, a mythical excuse now hovers in the ether as a means to beatify him. Racism will be fingered as the rationale behind the public's rejection. This explanation is entirely irrational but will soothe the tender sensitivities of Democrats, as it bolsters their (seemingly innate) feelings of self-righteousness. Tying Obama's loss to racism will burnish pride. Manufactured will be the conclusion that pseudo-liberals are more morally advanced than their conservative foes. The political left will claim that they were above race and point to the mixed ethnicity of their champion, whereas it will be implied that the right was not "ready" for a man of Obama's stature and alleged excellence.

Various mainstream media members have already embraced this illogical line of argumentation. CNN's Jack Cafferty proudly circulated the fallacy, noting: "Race is arguably the biggest issue in this election, and it's one that nobody's talking about. The differences between Barack Obama and John McCain couldn't be more well-defined. Obama wants to change Washington. McCain is a part of Washington and a part of the Bush legacy. Yet the polls remain close. Doesn't make sense ... unless it's race."

Yet Mr. Cafferty overlooked the fact that leftists everywhere, such as Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, breathed so much life into this topic that it may well be able to transport itself to the polls on November 4. Sebelius proclaimed, "Have any of you noticed that Barack Obama is part African-American? That may be a factor. All the code language, all that doesn't show up in the polls. And that may be a factor for some people."

Of course, allusions to racism are but a false dichotomy. There is a plethora of legitimate reasons for rejecting Barack Obama as president. That we must either endorse his candidacy or admit to being malignant racists is a risible notion. Much has been written about what is known as the Bradley effect (peruse this fine article by Stephen Green that appeared at Pajamas Media for more information). Specifically, the effect suggests that white voters may lie to pollsters about whom they are going to support if the candidate in question is black. The phenomenon is referenced whenever a black candidate garners impressive numbers in exit polling, but manages to under-perform once the final votes are tallied. (Of course, in disharmony with this effect, John Kerry was a perfect example of exit polling data not matching final vote tallies.) It receives its name from black politician Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 California governor's race after being significantly ahead in pre-election polling. To those who buy into the theory, Obama's lead must be weighty in order for it to endure.

Perhaps its popularity is what caused Sebelius and Cafferty to intimate that the American people possess a nineteenth-century sensibility in regard to race. As always, the mainstream media were happy to lend their emotive keyboards to the process of validating these slanders, as demeaning the general population is a cause they cherish. They highlighted (re: celebrated) a recent poll from Stanford which purportedly gave credence to such pessimism. The academic survey found that "racial misgivings" may reduce Obama's aggregate results. In the words of one of the researchers, "[t]here are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots." A closer examination of the data showcased that a third of white Democrats are the individuals who may harbor negative views of blacks.