Around the country, voters and politicians are debating the stunning lead, now double digit, that Barack Obama [photo, right] has against Republican rival John McCain in the polls.
At issue is the so-called Bradley effect, named after the late Tom Bradley [photo, left], former mayor of Los Angeles, who was ahead in the polls when he ran for governor of California in 1982, but lost the election.
In the wake of that defeat, some postulated that many whites simply lied -- out of fear, perhaps, of being seen as racist -- when they said they'd be voting for Bradley.
Though Bradley led significantly in the polls, ultimately he lost the election to Republican George Deukmejian by about 100,000 votes, about 1.2% of the 7.5 million votes cast.
There are those nowadays who say the Bradley effect is a thing of the past, the polls are much more sophisticated and that voters are much more open about the issue of race, less likely to lie about their feelings.
Professor Daniel J. Hopkins, a political scientist at Harvard, has determined that, as racially charges issues like crime and welfare faded from the scene in the 1990s, so did the Bradley effect. This according to the Washington Post, who quotes Hopkins as saying:
"The most likely circumstance that could bring back the Bradley effect would be a racialized campaign," said Hopkins, a lecturer in Harvard's department of government. "If we spend the next month debating Jeremiah Wright or other racial issues, that would be the thing that would be on people's minds."
(see BrooklynRon post from early this year on this topic.)