Magazine October 20, 2008, Issue

Testing the Bradley Effect

Obama and McCain during the 2008 presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
Are opinion polls making accurate predictions about Barack Obama?

In 1982, California gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley went into Election Day leading in the polls. He lost in a squeaker. In 1989, New York City mayoral candidate David Dinkins had as much as an 18-point lead in the polls over his Republican opponent, Rudy Giuliani. On Election Day, he eked out a narrow victory. That same year, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Douglas Wilder enjoyed as much as a 15-point lead, only to win by a few thousand votes out of nearly 2 million cast.

All three candidates were black. These peculiar results have induced political observers to ask whether there is a …

Jay Cost is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College.

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