Monday, 13 October 2008

Never rule out race

Stryker McGuire is right to point out to all those enthusiastic Obama supporters who think their candidate is just going to stroll it that the competition is never over until the votes are in, and counted.
The race factor cannot be ignored. And as pollsters know, when people tell you their voting preferences they are not always truthful.
In Pennsylvania, on the Ohio border, last week, I ran into some people from Michigan and ended up chatting over breakfast about the upcoming election. We quickly got into a discussion about voting trends.
One of them, a black sociologist, felt that race was still going to be a factor, and more voters were going to vote Republican than were admitting it. Those who knew they looked too stupid if they said they were voting Republican because they supported Palin, were using McCain as an excuse, even when it was purely about being racist, she argued.

One friend who works in Atlanta says she has been told by life-long Democrats that while they might vote for Obama, the parents' generation wouldn't, and this would be all about race.
Early voting may help to create momentum and drag people in who like to be on the winning side, and be with the big new thing.
That's one reason why the Democrats are pushing the use of early voting. Two friends from northern Ohio, told me they were going to get their votes well ahead of election day, for just that reason.
They were still pretty worried about the south of the state, and were hoping to help create a state-wide piece of momentum.
Recent polls might show Obama putting some clear Blue water between him and McCain, but never forget these things can turn in a moment.


Stuart White said...

I think Rachael is absolutely right to stress the hard-to-quantify white racism factor in this election. For an excellent discussion of this factor, see the article on the white working-class in the latest issue of the New Yorker.

Sunder Katwala said...

* This is George Packer's New Yorker piece on the white working-class in Ohio, which Stuart mentions

* There is an interesting and sceptical piece about the Bradley effect in the 1982 California race on RealClearPolitics. (It by one of the strategists on the other side, but the information about the polling is straight). There have been polling errors and late swings not about race - as Labour found to its cost in 1992 and 1970 - and it is difficult to separate out the race effects.

Tim Gore said...

On a more positive note, it is also possible that there could be something of a 'reverse Bradley effect', whereby normally Republican voters don't admit in polls that they will vote for a Black Democrat...but then do because they can't stand McCain.

(The presence of 'heartlands' Palin on the ticket might flip the reverse back again though!)