Communication Matters

Analysis, critique, and advice on today's hot news topics from the perspective of a Strategic PR Consultant.

Economic pains, Superb Campaigning Trump Bradley Effect

Posted by mrsmart on October 13, 2008

Comparison of the election which gave us the so-called Bradley effect and this one is like comparing apples to oranges, literally.

Since the beginning of the general election in June 2008 between Senators Barrack Obama and John McCain, various scenarios have been explored to gauge who would emerge the winner in November. The fact is that the country has never had any election like this in its 232 years. Suffice it to say nothing in our past can serve as model for predicting the result of this one. Several critical factors contribute to this uncertainty.

1. This is the first time in recent memory where an incumbent with such low approval rating, 23% according to the latest polling today, is not running for reelection.

2. Economic paralysis including big banks failure, credit freeze, home foreclosure, personal incomes down, stock market in a nosedive, massive job loss across the country; plant closings especially in the industrial regions of the country; general atmosphere of economic fear gripping the nation.

3. A genuine war hero, Caucasian senator with over 26 years in congress, running as one party nominee.

4. The other party’s nominee, an inexperienced Senator; Harvard educated; African American, running as best a presidential election campaign as has been witnessed before.

5. An unpopular war with the war hero supporting its continuation howbeit as long as necessary to “achieve victory,” and the African American against it from the beginning, and wants a quick end to it.

6. The first time a candidate has refused public financing, financing his campaign exclusively from small donations from millions of ordinary citizens across the country, and American citizens in the Diaspora.

7. Most polling show leads of two to 12 percentage point advantage for the African American, Barrack Obama; an identical domination in the Electoral College map for the senator.

Bradley effect
With this near one-sided polling, almost three weeks to the election, discussions have turn to possible Bradley effect as a way for McCain to still pull out an improbable win despite the odds. Bradley effect was coined from a contest in which polls showed former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, with 65 percent support while running for the governor of California in 1982. He lost the election by a close margin. Caucasians, who had previously voiced support for Bradley, voted for his opponent on Election Day instead, thus supposedly costing him the election.
This time, the outcome will be different. Here is why.

1. The base of Mayor Bradley support was African American, mostly from Los Angeles where he was mayor, with a population only a fraction of that of the state of California at that time.

2. The economic woes from which voters want relief hurt everyone, whites, blacks, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans.

3. Obama’s campaign has been run in way that transcends race; is populist with a broad coalition of voters from all socioeconomic levels.

4. He appears calm even in the midst of economic turbulence.

5. Without public financing, he is free to raise and spend as much as he wants to. This advantage has been evident in his disproportional television advertisement in key battleground states.

Reverse Bradley effect.
In a reverse Bradley effect, there may actually be more Caucasians who are closet Obama supporters. They would vote for Obama in the privacy of the voting booth than openly sharing with their neighbors their support for Obama.

Obama may win in a blowout.
This election will be won or lost based on Obama’s performance. If he loses it will be close. If he wins, it will be a blowout.

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