The Bradley effect and the Diebold effect
September 6, 2008 § 1 Comment
What is currently making me nervous is the intersection of the Bradley effect and the Diebold effect. The Bradley effect, for the yunguns,
is derived from a 1982 campaign involving Tom Bradley, the long-time mayor of Los Angeles, California. Bradley, who was black, ran as the Democratic party’s candidate for Governor of California against Republican candidate George Deukmejian, who was white. The polls on the final days before the election consistently showed Bradley with a lead. In fact, based on exit polls on election day, a number of media outlets projected a Bradley win that night; early editions of the next day’s San Francisco Chronicle featured a headline proclaiming “BRADLEY WIN PROJECTED”. However, Bradley narrowly lost the race. Post-election research indicated that a smaller percentage of white voters actually voted for Bradley than polls had predicted, and that voters who had been classified by those polls as “undecided” had gone to Deukmejian in statistically anomalous numbers
in other words the crypto-racist effect. It happened in other high-profile races as well (ibid).
Similar voter behavior was noted in the 1989 race for Governor of Virginia between black Democratic candidate L. Douglas Wilder (right) and white Republican candidate Marshall Coleman. In that race, Wilder prevailed, but by less than half of one percent, despite pre-election poll numbers that showed an average lead for him of nearly nine percent
Other races which have been cited as possible demonstrations of the Bradley effect include the 1983 race for Mayor of Chicago, the 1988 Democratic primary race in Wisconsin for President of the United States, and the 1989 race for Mayor of New York City.
The 2006 Tennessee Senate race between Harold “Call Me” Ford, Jr and some white guy was heralded as the end of the Bradley effect in some quarters because the polling was consistent with the, um, polling.
So where are we in 2008 with a tan guy running for president? Will we have anomolous numbers of undecideds going white? Probably. This only worries me a little though. Okay a lot, but not as much as something else. Remember Diebold?
A voting system used in 34 states contains a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point, the manufacturer acknowledges.
The problem was identified after complaints from Ohio elections officials following the March primary there, but the logic error that is the root of the problem has been part of the software for 10 years, said Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold.
The problem is this. Deep snooping into possible electoral shenanigans is motivated when there is a wtf? moment at hand. A substantial disconnect between pre-election polling and/or exit-polling and the election results is just one such motivating factor that would launch investigation into vote counting and non-counting.
Unless it were assumed to result from a known situation like the Bradley effect, hmmm?