Is the Bradley Effect Really Occurring?
The Bradley Effect is a political theory that posits that a subset of white voters tend to vote for a non-white candidate when they are given the choice. It is a theory that has been studied extensively by political analysts. In particular, it is said to explain why Barack Obama received more votes than predicted by polls during the 2008 election.
While the Bradley Effect has been studied by a number of scholars, it is still unclear whether the phenomenon is actually occurring. But as more and more minorities are elected, there is a good chance that it will be more prevalent in the future.
The name “Bradley Effect” was coined after the 1982 California gubernatorial race. Tom Bradley, an African-American, narrowly lost the election to a white Republican candidate. This result puzzled many voters, especially the Democratic party. At the time, Tom Bradley had a clear lead in the polls. His loss prompted some Californians to question why they had chosen to vote for an African-American.
Several years after the Bradley Effect was identified, Colin Powell thought about running for president. He also noted that some black candidates were receiving more support in polls than they were in the voting booth. Some political pundits attributed these results to the pressure to look liberal or open-minded. Others attributed it to a racial motive.
According to a report by the Times, it is believed that people are less likely to vote for a minority candidate. However, some researchers believe that the opposite is true. If a pollster asks a voter, “Will you vote for a black candidate?”, the answer will be more often than not, “Yes,” rather than, “No.”
The Bradley effect was attributed to the fact that some white voters were choosing to vote for a black candidate because they wanted to appear more “liberal” or “open-minded” to pollsters. Other researchers theorized that a subset of white voters were choosing a non-white candidate because they did not want to appear racist.
The Bradley Effect was found in dozens of elections in the U.S. until the 1990s. In recent years, however, the occurrence of the phenomenon has declined. Perhaps due to increased precision in polling and changing cultural values, it will be harder to find a case where the Bradley Effect played a significant role.
One recent study by the University of Washington suggested that the reverse Bradley effect may have occurred in recent elections. The researchers pointed out that polls have underestimated support for a number of candidates, including Barack Obama. They suggested that Trump supporters were unwilling to admit to pollsters that they would support their preferred candidate.
Researchers have speculated that the reluctance to provide accurate polling answers has extended to exit polls as well. For example, in the last presidential election, Trump supporters were reported to be shy about saying they supported their preferred candidate. Similarly, the Pew Research Center has indicated that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s support was underestimated by polls.