Friday 17 October 2008

Race against Obama?

Tom Bradley was an African-American candidate in the 1982 race to become governor of the state of California. Running against a white candidate, Bradley was shown to be ahead in most of the opinion polls before the election. However, he lost the race and hence the so-called Bradley effect came into being to explain the discrepancy between the opinion polls and the actual election result. Apparently, this phenomenon resulted from white votes basically fibbing to pollsters about how they were going to vote, i.e. that they were going to vote for Bradley, when in fact they were going to vote for his white opponent. 

Which brings me to Senator Barack Obama’s lead in virtually all the major national polls in the US and in the electoral college projections, with just over 2 weeks to go before polling day. Now, whilst even Obama’s most ardent Hollywood supporters (and he has many) couldn’t have crafted a better script for him in his march to the White House (I mean, who could lose against a party that has presided over the subprime fiasco which morphed into a global financial crisis; has George W. Bush and Sarah Palin; ‘created’ quagmires that are Iraq and Afghanistan; let Osama slip away into the caves and chose an erratic and dare I say, past retirement age candidate for the most powerful political office in the world?), he cannot rest easy until all the votes have been counted and he has more than those 270 electoral college votes.

Whilst most commentators argue that the Bradley effect has diminished over the years, watching clips of some of the angry rhetoric at Senator John McCain’s campaign rallies, leave no one in any doubt that race is playing a big part in this election season and that it will play a significant role in the voting patterns and the result. Frankly, there are still enough Americans who cannot countenance having a black President in the White House to derail the Obama jaggernaut.

With this in mind, the Obama campaign cannot afford to put too much credence in the polls and assume positive opinion polls open the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Thankfully Senator Obama seems to be very aware of this.

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