Don’t Look at Tennessee
Many are trying to make predictions on how the Presidential elections will turn out by making comparisons to Harold Ford Jr’s unsuccessful bid to win a Senate seat in 2006. I think it’s a bad comparison. Schaffner at pollster.com takes a look at some exit polling data on “late deciders” anyway and concludes there to have been no Bradley Effect in effect..
Of the things weighing down Jr’s campaign, race was probably less significant than having the last name Ford and being from Memphis. People knew “Ford,” but perhaps not as many knew Harold Ford Jr. I think folks were still trying to see whether or not there would be some kind of fallout from his family members legal troubles. There’s also the fact that late in the campaign, many progressives and Kurita fans were still pondering whether to pinch the snout and pull the lever for Ford or waste one on Lugo. Or abstain.
The report claims it’s less likely that Black voters were going to make a decision based on race that would work against Ford. I think the number of those Black voters in 06 was greater than Schaffner realizes, given the perception that Ford was somehow claiming White ancestry for political game, or even that he just loved the White ladies too much.
Schaffer’s analysis focuses on people who only made up their minds late in the campaign, and finds Jr’s support went up towards the end of the campaign rather than down as Bradley suggests. Says nothing about those who only made up their mind finally in the voting booth.
He concludes that given Ford’s late game performance, Obama will likely do better during these last two weeks than later. I think that’s probably true, but more owing to the high number of newly registered (not counted in the “likely voter” type of polls) voters than owing to a trend that people who supported a Black candidate broke towards the Black candidate instead of away.