Friday, January 11, 2008

Muckroom Follies 1.11.08

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), today we have an opportunity to take the edge off the Muckroom's right wing tilt--just a touch.

In the wake of Senator Clinton's electoral victory in New Hampshire, there have been several discussions by pundits of both right wing and left wing ideologies of polling failures and something called "The Bradley Effect," which names the peculiar phenomenon of the pollsters being so wrong in predicting that Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles would be elected governor of California in 1982.

On the night of that election, Californians went to bed believing we had elected our first black governor. We woke to the first Armenian-American governor. What happened? What happened was the count from Orange County, which was, and still is to a large extent, a Republican bastion.

Bradley led in the polls by a good margin; Deukmejian won by a small margin. Apologists argue that people were reluctant to tell a pollster that they were not willing to vote for an African-American (was that the phrase de jour by then?). So, not wishing to admit to a stranger about inherent racism, the respondent misled the pollster.

That may or may not be true, but the day after the election Mort Tenner, the principal where I was working at the time, said it was the Republican vote in Orange County which put the kibosh on "Governor" Bradley. The Orange County votes were late to be reported, the "News at 11" reported trends--not actual final counts--and the stage was set for a morning surprise. There was no discussion by Tenner at all of incipient racism.

So, was it racism or was it Republican tax policies? The power of the purse, it seems, could well have been the Bradley Effect as much as the power of bigotry.

Trust, but verify.

(This time muckroom writing is spread across the political spectrum. Alas.)

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