“The Obama campaign would do well to print signs to post prominently in its offices: ALWAYS SUBTRACT SEVEN PERCENT!”
That advice comes from Andrew Hacker, a political science professor at Queens College, in a September 25 New York Review of Books article titled: “Obama: The Price of Being Black.”
Hacker’s seven percentage point subtraction from pro-Obama poll results is based on the “Bradley effect,” named after Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles who lost his 1982 bid for governor after every poll showed him ahead of his white opponent. Results in other elections indicate that many white voters don’t tell pollsters the truth about their feelings against black candidates.
Senator Barrack Obama faces another little discussed hurdle in his historic race for the White House. In a reversal of the decades-old trend to make the voting franchise universal, Hacker writes,
“…Now strong forces are at work to downsize the electorate, ostensibly to combat fraud and strip the rolls of voters who are ineligible for one reason or another. But the real effect is to make it harder for many black Americans to vote, largely because they are more vulnerable to challenges than other parts of the population.”
Hacker describes in detail how some new state and Federal rules – even “the amiably titled Help America Vote Act” –have the effect of placing a heavier burden on blacks to exercise their right to vote. One of his sources is “Restoring the Right to Vote” by Erika Wood, a 34-page publication of the Brennan Center for Justice of the New York University School of Law, which can be accessed here.
Hacker’s analysis does not mean Obama is bound to lose. It is, however, an alarm bell to unprejudiced whites, among whom a greater get-out-the-vote effort will be needed. At least seven percentage points greater.