You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

The Reverse Bradley Effect, Cont'd.

Mickey Kaus raises a good question in response to my post about the "other" reverse Bradley effect--the idea that some black voters would be reluctant to say they support Obama for fear of sounding like they're voting out of racial solidarity. Mickey asks (scroll down three screens or so):

But what if this black Bradley Effect operates in the other direction--black voters tell pollsters they are going to vote for Obama (because they feel that's expected of them) and then vote for Hillary or Edwards? In other words, they behave exactly like the white voters in the Standard Bradley Effect. That would take some of the sting out of the implicit charge of "racism" that always lurks underneath the Bradley Effect, no? ... Of the two possibilities, I'd guess the latter is more likely. Are African-Ameican voters really worried that they'll "sound like they're voting out of racial solidarity"?** I'd think fear of being considered a self-hater or Oreo (or practitioner of "middleclassness"!) looms larger in most black communities, unfortunately. But I don't know. ...

I'd say it hinges on the social dynamic during the polling interview. The fear of being considered a self-hater may loom larger in most black communities. But that only means you'd expect some respondents to lie and say they support Obama when the interviewer is black

On the other hand, I'd speculate that when African-Americans are in the presence of whites, the greater social fear is being considered a "race man" (or woman). Which means you'd expect some reluctance to express support for Obama when the interviewer is white. (For the record, I don't think many people--white or black--misrepresent their views to pollsters. Nor do I think many African Americans worry about being considered a race man or woman. We're talking about margins here, but margins can make a difference.)

Now, it's possible that there are more black poll interviewers than white interviewers. But, given how many fewer black people there are in the country/labor force than white people, I doubt it.

--Noam Scheiber