This Is What Happens When We Say What We THINK We Should Say, Instead Of How We Really Feel
They call it "The Bradley Effect".
Comedian/satirist/native Milwaukeean Will Durst boils down what happened in New Hampshire this week, where men are men and pollsters are embarrassed. Everyone and their dog had Barack Obama winning, and winning big Tuesday night. It wasn't just the Gallops, AP's and ABC's either--even internal polls had Hillary Clinton losing to the point where there was Internet chatter about her pulling the plug on her campaign.
"In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African- American, was 10 points ahead in the polls the day before his California Gubernatorial election against George Deukmejian. 10 points ahead. Day before the election. He lost. Sound familiar? Ding. Ding. Ding. Give that man a kewpie doll.
To add insult to injury, Bradley led in the EXIT polls. Which means people not only lied about how they were going to vote, they lied about how they did vote. Proof positive that something crazy happens inside the heads of white people when they get behind that polling curtain."
I've always maintained we tend to tell pollsters what we THINK they want us to say, rather than what we really feel. Why not? It's not like you're going to be held accountable. Which, Will says, is why the "Bradley Effect" didn't happen in Iowa:
"In Iowa, everyone watches you vote. No curtain to hide behind in a caucus. You bunch in a corner in full sight of all your neighbors under a bright fluorescent light. In New Hampshire, it's just you and your demons. Your inner New England demons. And hope tends to dissipate in those lonely enclosures. No matter how warm the January night, it gets dark at five up there. Northwoods dark, where shadows trump hope."
How else do you explain it? How can every sampling be so far off? How come nobody saw this coming?
Maybe it's because we don't want to. We want to think we aren't THAT person, when in fact, too many of us maybe are. When it's just you and that blank ballot, that myriad of levers...you're only accountable to yourself. Who'll know if you talked a good fight on the outside, and chickened out when it came time to pull the switch inside? Certainly no one else will do what you're about to do--they all must've meant what they said and followed through on their stated plan to vote the way they did.
Or did they?
The Obama win in Iowa landed the Illinois Senator in the history books--as well as on the cover of "Newsweek". Was his Hawkeye State victory a product of an enlightened electorate, or the caucus process that puts faces to votes? Is what happened in New Hampshire an indictment of our fascination with pre-election polls? Or, is it an indictment of the prejudice that voters don't want to confess?
There's only one way to find out--go back to New Hampshire and ask those who voted in the Democratic primary who they cast their ballots for. I'm guessing Barack Obama wins that survey, hands down.