Roger – I think you’re exactly right and I’ve been amazed by the incredibly sloppy discussions about the Bradley effect, particularly on television. To listen to most MSM commentators and analysts, you’d think Obama’s problem with racist voters is some how the Republican Party’s fault. Guess what? Republicans (including racist Republicans) are going to vote for the Republican.
More basically, to the extent the Bradley effect is real, it measures fear of appearing racist. As I put it in a column on this last month:
The media’s obsession with race in this election is probably fueling the Bradley effect. Repeating over and over that voting against Obama is racist only makes non-racist people embarrassed to admit that they plan to vote for McCain.
Another rich irony is that the only racists who matter in this election are the ones in the Democratic Party. News flash: Republicans aren’t voting for the Democratic nominee because they’re Republicans. A new AP-Yahoo News poll claims that racial prejudice is a significant factor among the independents and Democrats Obama needs to win, specifically among Hillary Clinton’s primary voters. According to the pollsters’ statistical modeling, support for Obama may be as much as 6 percentage points lower than it would be if there were no white racism.
I’m skeptical about those findings, as well as the overemphasis on race generally. But to the extent that race is a factor, here’s the richest irony of all: Obama’s problem is with precisely those voters the Democratic Party claims to fight for, working- and middle-class white folks. Of course, Democrats can’t openly complain that their own vital constituency is racist.
If the media were more objective, we’d be hearing a lot more about the racism at the heart of the Democratic Party. (Imagine if the black nominee this year were a Republican!) But such objectivity would cause too much cognitive dissonance for a press corps that defines “racist” as shorthand for Republican and sees itself as the publicity arm of the Obama campaign.