The “Obama Effect”
Vol: 85 Issue: 20 Monday, October 20, 2008
In 1982, Tom Bradley, the black former mayor of Los Angeles ran for governor of the state. Bradley was favored to win by 22 percentage points over Republican challenger George Deukmejian.
The pollsters and mainstream media had already written Deukmejian off and proclaimed Bradley California’s new governor. Tom Bradley enjoyed the same type of love affair from the media that Barack Obama does today.
Like Obama, Bradley came across as larger-than-life; cool, unflappable, erudite and urbane. The election had energized the Democrats; more than eight million turned out to vote.
In the end, despite his perceived 22 point advantage, Bradley lost to his white opponent by just under 100,000 votes.
In 1983, Harold Washington ran for mayor of Chicago against white establishment politicians Richard Daley and Jane Byrne. Washington was the odds-on favorite in the polls, also enjoying double-digit leads up to Election Day. But he won by less than three points in what turned out be a late-night squeaker.
Six years later, Douglas Wilder ran for governor of Virginia. Wilder, the grandson of slaves, had made history in 1986 when he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia by becoming the first black to win to be elected to state-wide office in the South during the 20th century.
So when we ran for governor in 1989, Wilder had a comfortable nine-point lead over his opponent, Marshall Coleman, (who was white.)
But when the votes were counted, Wilder’s margin of victory was so close (1/2 of 1%) that it forced a recount before Wilder could be certified the victor. That same year, black New York mayoral candidate David Dinkins went to the polls with an 18 point lead, and emerged out the other side having just squeaked past Rudy Guiliani.
When Hillary Clinton edged Obama in this year’s New Hampshire primary despite data that showed Obama leading some suspected the Bradley effect had crept back into play.
“Since then,” Democratic strategist Donna Brazile wrote recently, “pollsters and pundits alike have warned that Obama needs a six-to-nine point lead to overcome the so-called Bradley effect.”
This morning, Reuters/Zogby gives Obama +6, Rasmussen +6 and Gallup’s ‘traditional’ poll (of likely voters) gives Obama +3. Therefore, if the Bradley Effect holds, then it’s McCain by three to six points.
Interestingly, the left has discovered over the course of this campaign that the Bradley effect can work for them — just by talking it up. One Harvard study of 133 gubernatorial races from 1989 to 2006 found the Bradley Effect had actually reversed itself over time as white voters’ attitudes about race changed.
Only about five percent of voters say race is an issue today, compared with a third a generation ago, according to the study.
Which suggests to me that the other 95% of voters are lying.
It seems to me that race is playing a role in this year’s election on three different levels. And on each of these levels, racism benefits Obama. These are voters who support Barack Obama because he is black.
Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama is a prime example. I listened to Powell explain why he was endorsing Obama over McCain.
Powell agreed that he has almost nothing in common with Obama politically.
“It isn’t easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that,” he said on ‘Meet the Press’.
When asked directly if he was still a Republican, Powell answered in the affirmative. But when asked if race played a role, Powell said only that it was not the ‘dominant’ factor in his decision.
Maybe it wasn’t the dominant factor, but it was a factor.
In struggling for a logical reason other than race for why General Powell would vote for an untested uber-liberal over a seasoned professional, Powell seized on William Ayers.
“This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign,” Powell said. “But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him?”
Try this on for size. John McCain’s political career was kicked off in the living room of an abortion clinic bomber.
John McCain served on two different boards with an abortion clinic bomber.
John McCain denied knowing the abortion clinic bomber, even though John McCain wrote a foreword to one of his books about being an abortion clinic bomber.
Then he admitted it. Then he denied it. Then he refused to talk about it anymore.
When would Powell stop talking about that? So General Colin Powell would be among those five percent who admit that race plays a role.
What about the other ninety-five percent?
There are very few Obama supporters who would deny that they believe seeing a black man elected president would be a victory for race relations in the United States.
Virtually every white liberal Obama supporter within or outside the media has made that argument at some point in the past few weeks. They think electing black man president would be good for the United States. Barack Obama is a black man.
Therefore, electing Obama would be good for the United States. Not because of his legislative record. He has none.
Certainly not because of his background and reputation. Let’s summarize his background, for illustrative purposes.
Barack Hussein Obama was possibly born in Hawaii to a Kenyan Muslim — he is fighting a lawsuit aimed at forcing him to produce a legal birth certificate. He was subsequently raised in Indonesia.
His school records there listed him as a citizen of Indonesia and listed his religion as Islam. (The records exist and they say what they say.)
As to his reputation, he attended Occidental College in California in 1979. By his own admission, he experimented with all kinds of drugs.
His roommates were two Pakistani Muslim students, Mohammed Chandoo and Walid Hamid. In 1981, Obama traveled to Indonesia, Africa and Pakistan.
When he returned, he attended prestigious (and expensive) Columbia University. After Columbia he went to work with ACORN for $12,000 a year. While in Chicago, he met William Ayers and Tony Rezko, a Syrian national. Two years later, Obama went to the even more prestigious (and expensive) Harvard.
(I wonder if it is racist to ask who financed Obama’s million-dollar education?)
Obama was introduced to Chicago politics by William Ayers. His history with Tony Rezko is both wide and deep. This is not the resume of a potential President of the United States.
His political platform is classic Marxist class warfare, his economic policy is a recipe for depression, his energy policy impossible, yet today’s Drudge headline reads; Obama +5.5.
Call it “the Obama Effect.”