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October 28, 2008
The Bradley Effect and kids (updated)
There's been quite a bit of discussion of the so-called Bradley Effect, a political phenomenon where voters tells pollsters that they plan on voting for a Black candidate. Then, in the privacy of the voting booth, they same person pulls the lever for a White candidate.
Supposedly, when a pollster calls, the person who answers the phone is uncomfortable saying that he will not vote for the Black candidate because he doesn't want anyone -- even a stranger on the telephone -- to think he may be a racist. This, even when the decision has absolutely nothing to do with race.
What hasn't been considered is an even stronger reason for the person answering the phone to conceal his true intent: the disapproval of his own family.
Pollsters often call around dinner time. The father or mother answering the phone usually does it in the presence of the spouse and children. Perhaps even on a speaker phone.
If the spouse (or children) are Obama supporters the person answering the phone is motivated not by worry that the pollster will be unhappy, but rather that the family will be unhappy. The Obama campaign is openly encouraging kids below the age of responsible thinking to nag their parents about voting for Obama, after all.
The pollster's disapproval is a weak motivator to lie. The family's disapproval is a much stronger motivator.
After all, it's been a long day at work. Why go looking for a sure argument? You want a cat? Sure, whatever. You want me to vote for Obama? Sure, whatever.
This makes much more sense than a Bradley Effect based on fear of disapproval by a stranger on the telephone.
It may well be significantly over-inflating Obama's real support. And, it may explain why so many people who twice voted for George Bush can now seemingly intend to vote for a far more radical lefist candidate than Al Gore or John Kerry.
Who wants their kids to overhear them telling a pollster that they're going to vote for that old McCain when they should be voting for that cool Obama?
Update from Rosslyn Smith:
One possible fly in the ointment of this theory is that in the 2008 Nickelodeon Kids Pick the President Poll Obama only got 51% of the vote, which is about where a lot of the polls of actual likely voters put the race.
While Nickelodeon likes to brag that the kids picked the winner four our to the last five times, in 2004 they were way off, with John Kerry getting a whopping 57% of the Nick kids vote. I seem to recall hearing a lot more about this poll in 2004 than I did this year, especially from the so called progressive community.
What makes these results even more interesting is that I have heard from friends who have children that in some markets Obama's media buy for cable TV included ads on the block of channels dedicated to children's programming. Perhaps the kids are getting as worn out by all the Obama hype as their parents.