Pre-poll Bradley Effect

By Guest Columnist Oct 21, 2008

By Anisha Desai, Women of Color Resource Center Speak Fierce! Much has been said about the Bradley effect—a term describing a hypothesis of why, despite popular voter opinion polls, a candidate of color does not ultimately fare well when it counts, in election day numbers. The Bradley effect is named after Tom Bradley, the African American gubernatorial 1982 candidate from California, who enjoyed widespread, positive popular support, but who lost out to his White counterpart. There is, of course, concern that despite the current snapshot of favorable numbers for Obama, that when voters go to the polls the irrational fear-factor of a Black president will trump rational good sense. Recent Republican rallies have demonstrated that the Bradley effect doesn’t just happen in the secrecy of the curtained polling booth, it happens in the great wide open expanse of Q&A sessions with McCain. It also happens, it turns out, at the other end of a microphone of an Al-Jazeera English reporter who captured this nauseating display of racist, hate-mongering feedback about why Obama wouldn’t be this person’s pick for president. It’s easy to assume that these are the voices of a fringe element—but I for one, don’t believe that they are. In many ways, they may just be the more outspoken elements of a more widely held Bradley effect. While the whole clip may read like an SNL spoof, it is important to take stock of what this kind of public, unabashed display of misinformation means for the current state of white supremacy in this country, far beyond the timeframe of the presidential elections.