The political pollsters are still asking themselves, "Are respondents telling us the truth when they say they will vote for Obama, or do they say it because they are afraid to admit they are voting for McCain."
This is what happened to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley in 1982, when he was running for Governor of California, and the polls had him leading by 10 points, at the end of the campaign. However, Bradley lost by less than a percentage point. Thus: The "Bradley Effect."
In straight talk, the assumption is that many voters are afraid to announce to a stranger on the phone, that they are not voting for the African-American.
Will history repeat itself?
There are a couple of reasons why I think not.
It is 26 years later, and, although, bigotry is not a thing of the past, African American's represent a broad landscape of political, entertainment, and education in America, this century.
The youth vote is crazy for Obama, and if they come out to vote, will overwhelm the system and push him to the presidency. With their cell phones and no land lines, it is possible that many will not be polled---and the opposite of the Bradley effect may take place.
I refused to work for the Bradley campaign in 1982, although asked to be Press Secretary, because it was a "Top to Bottom" campaign, with more emphasis on just making the television commercial...and forgetting the grass roots as annoying.
Tom Bradley was somewhat overconfident in that campaign, and did not do his homework on the campaign trail, so when he went to the statewide press corps in Sacramento, he was blown away as not being prepared.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Tom Bradley and worked on his 1969 as well as his 1973 campaigns, including a stint when he was on the City Council--but I could see the vast weakness in his campaign for Governor.
The difference with Obama, as the primaries showed, he had his ground operation humming, and is not overconfident.
The campaign structure has shown no real weakness to this point.
With a strong campaign apparatus, along with the youth vote, I don't believe the "Bradley effect," will be repeated on November 4th, 2008.
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