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October 16, 2008

Obligatory: Obama's Edge with Likely Voters Narrows to Two

That's the traditional likely voter model. The HopeyChangey model of course has him up by more, but no one ever trusts that -- if everyone who claimed they would "definitely" vote did in fact vote, pollsters wouldn't have to ask questions like "how many times have you voted in the past six years" and "do you know the location of your nearest polling station" to ferret out the real likelies.

Obama will do better than likely voter models suggest -- but not nearly as good as the HopeyChangey "if you say you're likely to vote, we believe you" model. Somewhere in the middle, probably edged to the side of the traditional model.

Of course, that doesn't include the Bradley Effect, if one exists. A lot of pollsters don't believe there is such a thing, and even dispute it happened to Tom Bradley, for whom it is named, in the first place.

But others do. There's a reason why exit polls showed a huge Kerry win in 2004: When someone who is clearly liberal -- young and/or female and/or minority -- asks you for whom you voted, with all of that pent-up self-righteous identity-politics judgmental sneering ready to spring out if you answer "wrong" -- there's a natural instinct to either not answer at all or to answer untruthfully in the "right way."

Hey -- I am a living testament to the Bradley Effect. I know a lot of liberals. Here's me discussing politics in real life:



(vague nod intended to give the misperception of basic agreement)


"Where am I politically? Oh, uhhh... I guess I'm a libertarian, I guess you'd say."

And if I'm talking to a liberal-leaning girl I'd like to screw... well oh my. One isn't responsible for the sorts of things one says when sporting a proto-boner.

Or here's a real-life discussion I had with a landlord in Massachusetts. I was friendly with him because he lived downstairs. But even though we talked, we didn't talk politics until I saw his computer was open to Michelle Malkin's site.

"Oh, you read Michelle Malkin? I actually kinda-sorta know her. I'm a conservative. Sorry I never mentioned it. I didn't want you to hold it against me."

-- "No problem. I didn't mention it either. I assumed you were a liberal, too."

Really happened. I have to conceal my occupation whenever I'm renting for fear of being tossed out for the Scarlet R.

Ann Coulter's latest column discusses this. And it's not merely a "Bradley Effect" as regards black candidates. It's a Bradley Effect concerning the entire party presumed to represent black interests -- the Democratic Party. The fear of being labeled a racist by a judgmental stranger may be responsible for Democrats' consistent underperformance at the polling booth as compared to the polls.

The Washington Post debates the reality of this, tending to doubt it. But I thought this was interesting:

Still, there is little reason today, some experts contend, for people answering public opinion polls to hide their true intentions.

"For people to lie, there generally has to be a stigma attached to telling the truth," said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. "There is none affiliated with saying, 'I'm voting for Hillary' or 'I'm voting for McCain.' "

Oh, for God's sakes, what nonsense. Of course there is. Obama has stoked that stigma through the primaries and now in the general election campaign.

He doesn't look like the other presidents on the dollar bill. Perhaps you'd heard that.

Kohut theorizes that polling discrepancies do not come from respondents who lie, but from people who decline to participate in polls. That is a growing problem, with studies showing that as many as half the people contacted for polls refuse to participate. Kohut recently conducted a study in which interviewers spent months repeatedly calling people back until they agreed to talk. He said that helped him see who is often missed in polling.

"Poorer, less-educated whites don't like to do these polls as much as better-educated people do," he said. "The refusals come from the same class of people who tend to be the most racially intolerant."

Bitter, clingy racists. Or maybe they're just sick of being branded as such when they fail to vote in the ways their would-be masters demand.

Anthony Greenwald, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, said he also does not buy that people are lying to pollsters. "What I do buy," he said, "is that there were lots of undecided people who didn't have an answer before the phone rang and were generating one on the spot."

Greenwald, who has studied the primary contest between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said that when people in polls are prodded to answer a question, they know that, unlike in the voting booth, their response will have no consequences. So they may say they are supporting a candidate they have not actually decided on.

Pollsters say they build in controls to account for possible hidden racial feelings that can skew results. Kohut said he tries to elicit more-honest answers by matching the race of the interviewer and the respondent. Others try to push people to test the intensity of their backing of a particular candidate and often toss out whites who express tepid support for black candidates.

But Jon Krosnick, a professor of political science, communication and psychology at Stanford University, noted that black callers tend to get more pro-Obama answers in surveys than white callers do, no matter the race of the respondent.

That would seem to be evidence of a Bradley Effect of some sort -- blacks are more comfortable truthfully saying they support Obama when speaking to a fellow black, and whites are more likely to claim they support Obama when speaking to a black interviewer, even if they're, you know, not.

"Leaning Obama." Or "undecided." "Undecided," just like Joe the Plumber.

Who doesn't sound very undecided to me. But Joe the Plumber seems to understand the stigma of announcing publicly, "I'm voting for McCain."

Anyone notice that it's only one side of the aisle that feels this need to hide their political affiliations? Well -- until recently. Hillary Democrats got beat up on with the same crap.

Great Catch! Brandon points out this Kohut guy asserts there's absolutely no stigma in saying one is voting for McCain or Hillary against Obama, directly before going on to brand those most likely to refuse to answer among the "most racially intolerant" voters in the country.

Nope! No stigma whatsoever, Kohut! Just being called "the most racially intolerant" of all Americans! Water off a duck's back and all.

I cite Dave Chappelle for the proposition that whites-- or rather non-Democrats generally -- don't like to reveal their political affiliations to strangers. Or even acquaintances.


But worth it if the boss isn't around.

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posted by Ace at 03:50 PM

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