21 de octubre de 2008

Obama and the 'Bradley effect'

How decisive is Barak Obama’s race going to be the forthcoming US elections? Al-Jazeera has asked, is there going to be a ‘Bradley effect’?

This particular American political phenomenon[i] alludes to the African-American candidate Tom Bradley who was leading the election be Governor of the state of California in 1982 but who was ultimately defeated by a white candidate. The “Bradley effect” refers to how white voters respond favorably to black candidates in the opinion polls but prefer white candidates in the electoral booth.

In an election in which  the Financial Crisis factor and  American foreign policy have been  main issues, Obama’s campaign has been addressing and emphasizing the professional capacity as well as charismatic qualities of the Democrat candidate rather than his racial origin. Furthermore, some Americans consider that the racial component has been overcome and the final decision will be taken among others from the economical, social and international policies offered by the contenders [ii]

Nevertheless, the skepticism still persists.

The three debates have finished without knock-outs, but the latest US election poll[iii] show Obama leads Republican candidate John McCain by a considerable important margin of 6.5% -in some cases even 10% difference[iv]- with respect to the Republican candidate, John McCain. As the readers may know, polls are “snapshots”, statistical assessments of what people are thinking at this moment in time but most credible surveys and polls allow for a 5% margin of error. Obama’s 6.5%-plus lead would normally be read as an indication that he will probably win but this does not factor in the “Bradley effect”. In this campaign the margin of error might be bigger. So, these polls will not necessarily tell us what the real final result will be.

The final leg will be crucial for both Republicans and Democrats campaigns. The Obama campaign needs to adjust their strategies to overcome the margin of error and the “Bradley effect” and so as to avoid any “surprise” for the latter ones.

Post published while studying Masters' degree in International Political Communication, Advocacy & Campaigning at Kingston University (UK). Revised by Anita Howarth.

[ii] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/barackobama.democrats20081

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