By Susan North
While not bored by the campaign, like many people I am sick and tired of all the polling. Before your eyes glaze over, take comfort that this article provides no polling data. The state of the economy, the numerous promises made in 2008 and then broken, the recent deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and a multitude of other points can be made that the last four years have been a disaster. The references to the last four years as Carter’s second term have been made almost daily for months now in the non-MSM. It is almost inconceivable that all, or nearly all, Americans have made up their minds. And the vast improvements in news distribution since 1980 when Carter failed to win a second term means that nearly all Americans are better informed and less dependent on the mainstream media as well as more suspect of it as a source (to what degree this is off-set by the general dumbing down of the American population by government controlled schools is another matter and equally hard to determine). It is therefore it is almost inconceivable that such a large number of voters still embrace Obama, or that they are undecided, yet that is what the polls claim.
Since the national conventions there have been a massive number of polls and articles, very many of them on quite reliable websites, and these articles argue convincingly that for various reasons either Obama or Romney (or the Democrats or Republicans) will win, or lose, due to a specific demographic, city, county, and/or state which has been polled. They further argue that for this reason the winner of the election will be this candidate, or that one, and that this point is proved by the numbers. Furthermore those who write, write convincingly, often have very solid credentials, and they have the numbers to prove their point. (I am reminded of Mark Twain who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”)
But are any of the polls reliable? The reality is that probably none of them are – we will know on Tuesday (unless there is another hanging chad, or some similar, problem). The reason polls are not reliable is due to “the Bradley Effect.” This phenomenon is named for Thomas J. “Tom” Bradley who served as mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1993. He ran for Governor of California and was defeated in 1982 and again in 1986. Bradley was black, and his unexpected loss in 1982 created the political term “the Bradley effect” referring to voters' tendency to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for the black candidate rather than admit that they are voting (for whatever reason) for the white opponent.
In addition to the “Bradley effect” there may be the “embarrassment factor” in 2012. So many 2008 voters where very vocal about their support for Obama, but due to the embarrassment factor they may be unwilling to admit they made a mistake in 2008.