As the election nears, many wonder whether the Bradley effect will play a role in voters’ ultimate decision at the polls. The Bradley effect is named after the late Mayor of Los Angeles who had a large lead in the polls when he was running for Governor of California in 1982. In the final days of this campaign for Governor his lead was apparent, but he ultimately lost the election.
Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder has first hand experience with the Bradley effect, proving that polls can be misleading. In the weeks leading up to Wilder’s election as Governor of Virginia, Wilder enjoyed a double-digit lead in most polls but ultimately won by only about seven thousand votes. The Mayor of New York, Dinkins, also led by double digits late in the race, but wound up winning by a mere two points.
The crux of the so-called Bradley effect is simple, while many claim they’ll vote for a black candidate when polled, many actually do not on Election Day. “Times never change, but people do and people are ahead of their leaders,” Wilder said commenting on his hope that people will not be affected by the Bradley effect. Wilder insists that several things make today’s Virginia different from a few years ago. He commented on the shifting demographics, the struggling economy, and the people.
Still, in these last few weeks before the election many wonder whether the people polled in Virginia, who say they back Obama, are genuine. The polls, however, currently seem to state victory for Obama. “With these polls showing what they’re showing, it would take a massive amount of lying,” Wilder said. As the election nears what kind of affect will this have on voters? Only time will tell.