Debating the “Bradley Effect”

Writing in today’s New York Times, Kate Zernike offers a reasoned and balanced but somewhat abbreviated appraisal of the question Do Polls Lie About Race? Her answer is an equivocal: maybe sometimes; depends.

Not so coincidentally, the Washington Post‘s Steven A. Holmes addresses precisely the same question in Pollsters Debate “Bradley Effect”. Holmes offers considerably more background for those who may be unfamiliar with the historical context, and presents a diverse range of views from a variety of pollsters and academics. For me, the most interesting polling numbers are those documenting a precipitous drop in the number of voters from the late 1950s to the present (now down to 5 percent) who would not vote for any black candidate for president. That’s progress. (And that is not intended as some subtle kind of endorsement — just a statement of fact.)

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