With Sen. Barack Obama's present lead in the polls, there's been hand-wringing in the media that he could possibly lose the race due to the so-called Bradley Effect, wherein racist white voters lie to pollsters on the telephone about their voting preferences in order to, well, not sound racist.
But as a former Bradley campaign staffer writes in an October 19 op-ed for the New York Times, it was Bradley's liberal policies and an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort by the GOP that put George Deukmejian into the Governor's Mansion. Writes Blair Levin (via Karen Tumulty of Time magazine):
On election night in 1982, with 3,000 supporters celebrating prematurely at a downtown hotel, I was upstairs reviewing early results that suggested Bradley would probably lose.
But he wasn’t losing because of race. He was losing because an unpopular gun control initiative and an aggressive Republican absentee ballot program generated hundreds of thousands of Republican votes no pollster anticipated, giving Mr. Deukmejian a narrow victory.This is not to say that race wasn’t an issue; it was in 1982 and it has been since. But to those who keep citing the Bradley effect — not so fast. It’s more complicated than you think.
Levin is now in the private sector as a financier, but he's still a backer of liberal Democrats, judging from his campaign contributions to Democratic Senate hopefuls Al Franken (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.), as well as Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
While I tip my hat to Time's Karen Tumulty for noticing Levin's op-ed and pushing it to her magazine's Swampland blog readers, I'm not holding my breath for many others in the media to start arguing that ideology and policy considerations, not race, could end up sinking Obama when all is said and done.