I don't intend to turn this into a political blog, but I should follow up after my Obama-Gushing last post, now that New Hampshire has knocked the props out of my high hopes. I still don't understand what happened. When all of the polls, by the media, independent agencies and the candidates showed Obama winning by a minimum of four points to a high of more than 10 points, and when the exit polls, where people who have already voted are asked how they voted, and they report Obama winning, how is it possible that Obama lost?
Granted, Hillary did a good job in the debate, and the show of emotion at the diner when someone asked her how she kept herself looking so good helped her, but an overnight swing that huge? And why wouldn't the exit polls show Hillary winning?
The only explanation that makes sense to me is the Bradley Effect. That is a phenomena first observed 25 years ago, when Tom Bradley, black mayor of California, ran for govenor against a white candidate. Bradley had consistent leads in the polls, and the exit polls taken after people had voted on election day showed Bradley winning, but he lost. The same phenomena has been observed with other black candidates, such as Douglas Wilder, the black governor of Virginia, and others.
The theory is that white people are reluctant to admit prejudice or to appear prejudiced and will tell pollsters that they will vote for the black candidate, but once in the polling booth, when no one knows how they voted, they vote for the white candidate. The Bradley Effect would not have come into play in the Iowa caucuses that Obama won so handily because there are no secret ballots; everyone can see who everyone else is supporting.
The Bradley Effect does not mean a black candidate can never win a secret ballot; Obama won the Illinois Senate race handily and other black candidates have won elections. It does mean that in a very close election, the black candidate would be at a disadvantage.
My initial reaction last night to the Obama defeat is that if it was the Bradley Effect that beat him, he's done as a candidate. Democrats do not have the luxury of nominating a candidate who might lose a close election, like the last two elections have been, because of the candidate's race. In looking around the blogosphere, I see there are bloggers, like the Daily Kos, making the argument that there could not have been a Bradley Effect in New Hampshire because Obama pulled about the same percentage of actual votes as had been predicted, Clinton won because she exceeded the percentage of votes that had been predicted for her. I don't understand that argument but I'm hoping it is correct.
At this point, I'm not abandoning my support for Obama. I still think he would make the best candidate and the best president. We'll just have to see how this plays out.
Now, I will not bore you with any more political ramblings. I need to tell you about the great movie I saw last weekend, Juno, my first five-star movie of the year. But that will have to wait until later.
Later note: Here's an Op-Ed piece in Thursday's New York Times by the head of the Pew Research Center offering support for the idea that the Bradley Effect was the determining factor in the New Hampshire voting.