The Democratic Backlash (The Bradley Effect)

CAmigrantmonLange (2)

Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” an alternative proof. 1937. FSA/LOC.

I love it when white people (and their color blind organizations!) create polls that don’t reflect or measure the existence of previous, well documented and observed attitudes and political actions about race after a period when an African-American has been in office, however benign and successful their service and goals.

One such key metric is the backlash. Going back to Reconstruction, through the electoral lose of Tom Bradley in his run for CA governor, or during the term of Harold Washington as Chicago’s mayor, a voter’s backlash has followed heavily on the heels of each victory (Tim Scott, Edward Brooke being exceptions). This backlash is both loud and silent; it has skewed polls before; it’s presence and effect is real–and it can carry over to the white candidate who is penalized as a contender for power because of previous success by people of color. The backlash crosses party lines; it is a continuum of attitudes and behavior about race that a segment of the country holds as a cherished, common core.

Traditionally, that backlash has been a 2 to 3 percent shift, but the polls ignore it. This year’s polls and conversations show it is likely to be present as President Obama leaves office. It is subtlety reflected in the Hillary/Bernie divide.

It may be big enough in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia, and North Carolina to have a powerful impact. If ignored–as the polls do–it could help engineer an November surprise!

Does Democratic Weakness Create Republican Opportunity?


~~An excellent point and you could add the metro area of Detroit as an example of profound backlash vis-a-vis the eventual election of black mayors and city council

~~or maybe it was more about municipal corruption in the ruling gov’t but that doesn’t fit the neat race narrative.

My Reply:

Thank you for reading and replying. First, what is “neat” is denial–yours–that ignores facts in every case. First fact ignored: the comment talks about polls; specifically, how polls do not capture the backlash constant–something political pollsters themselves refer to as the “Bradley effect.”

The second “neat” deception is a common one: unlike my comment–which offers examples of polling cases where race or backlash influenced the outcome and was missed by the polls (actually a complicated correlation and difficult to measure) and which also offered exceptions–you offered no evidence/example/reason/description/logic other than assumptions (imagined! as they are not cited) for your conclusion of “corruption.”

Third: if “corruption” is the factor, why did it not show up in the elections of Mark Sanford (fined by the SC ethics commission), any number of Louisiana, Illinois, New York and New Jersey elected officials or Providence, RI infamous mayor “Buddy” Cianci–to name only a few states where corruption is rampant or officials known to have violated standards?

Finally, it must be “neat” to tie a narrative to race without facts, and then throw in corruption as blame without evidence! How neat is that!


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