Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Bradley Effect & Other Fears to Scare You at Night

The Bradley Effect is a term coined by scholar Charles Henry in his effort to explain why LA Mayor Tom Bradley was polling so well during the 1982 California gubernatorial race yet lost the actual election. Bradley, Henry concluded, was getting misleading information from the polls because he was black and because some white voters were really uncomfortable with two things: 1) voting for a black guy and 2) admitting they were uncomfortable with voting for a black guy.

So be encouraged by the latest polls, but don't let them make you complacent.

If you're not doing so already, an activity with a relatively high utility to awkwardness ratio is calling voters in swing states. You can sign up at My Barack Obama (worst political website nickname winner for 2008:, which has a good system and relatively painless script for calling voters. You can do it in small chunks of spare time if necessary. I've been calling Ohio, and I don't think I've convinced anybody to vote for McCain.

If you actually live in a swing state, you have more choices. Knocking on doors is a big one. Helping the local Democrats organize voter turnout is another. Just do something practical.

Let's not give them any reason to rename it the Obama Effect.

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