Declaring publicly that one cannot vote for a candidate because of his or her race, but then voting for that candidate in the secrecy of the ballot booth; voting for a candidate because of his or her race.
When polls showed Obama leading in the weeks before the election, the same pundits crowed about how Obama could still lose because of the Bradley effect. That is the unproven hypothesis contesting that white voters will lie and say they are voting for a black candidate, then really support a white opponent. Again, because they supposedly hold unfavorable views of blacks, but don't want to appear racist.
Instead, if anything, we may have had a reverse Bradley effect. Obama's support among white voters across a broad socioeconomic spectrum was stunning. The coalition that swept Obama to power included some of everyone: whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, young, middle-age, old, Jewish.
—Tammerlin Drummond, "Myths disproven on the way to victory," Contra Costa Times, November 9, 2008
In fact, Christopher Carman, a senior lecturer at Strathclyde University, says: "There is evidence that there was something of a Reverse Bradley Effect." He points out that, nationally, only 9 per cent of voters said the race of the candidate was an important factor to them. But in crucial swing states won by Mr Obama, twice as many voters said it was important. In Virginia it was 18 per cent and in Ohio it was 19 per cent, but far from being a negative factor, most of those who said race was important said that they voted for Mr Obama — 63 per cent in Virginia and 54 per cent in Ohio.
—John Rentoul, "Doubters confounded as pollsters score a direct hit," The Independent, November 6, 2008
You may have heard of the Bradley Effect, a phenomenon where black candidates poll much better than they do on election night. This is usually attributed to voters telling pollsters one thing, but then voting against the black candidate in the privacy of the voting booth.
I wonder if Barack Obama benefited from a Reverse Bradley Effect.
In the Iowa Democrat caucuses, you make your preference known by standing in a corner with other supporters of your candidate. To the sort of white liberal who goes to an Iowa caucus, this must have seemed like a golden opportunity to show your next-door neighbors just how enlightened and progressive you are, by supporting the liberal black candidate. Hence I suspect that Obama may have scored better than he would have in a secret-ballot election, and benefited from a Reverse Bradley Effect.
—PoliPundit, "A Reverse Bradley Effect?," PoliPundit.com, January 4, 2008
Just in case you've been updating your Facebook page for the past year and so are one of the four people who haven't yet heard about the "Bradley effect," it refers to a African American politician named Tom Bradley who was ahead in the polls going into the 1982 election for governor of California, but ended up losing to his white opponent. Some folks have speculated that a few white voters will tell a pollster that they intend to vote for a black candidate so as not to appear racist, but then in the ballot booth they switch to the white candidate, thus the poll discrepancy. Here's the earliest citation I could find for this:
In Virginia, "I think a lot of people cast their votes on race, and it's something that's not easily measured by polls," said pollster Brad Coker. "People are not going to freely admit they're racists to strangers."
The theory even has a name: "The Bradley effect," for Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a black Democrat who led in the polls in his 1982 race for governor only to lose narrowly to his white opponent, George Deukmejian.
—Gary Langer, "Election Poll Problems: Did Some Voters Lie?," The Associated Press, November 8, 1989