The Obama Effect
Much ado has been made over the “Bradley Effect” and how it will affect the election come November. While I think the Bradley Effect will come into play, I believe it will overshadowed by a larger incongruity between the polls and actual votes – a phenomenon I call the “Obama Effect”.
From New Hampshire on, primary after primary showed Obama a few points higher in the polls than the actual number of votes he received. Most pundits and commentators rushed in to declare it to be the revival of the dreaded Bradley Effect. While I don’t doubt that the Bradley Effect played some role, the bulk of this incongruity can be attributed to late deciders – people changing their minds within the last 24 hours before the actual vote – rejecting Obama.
To explain this, I posit the following theory:
1. Part of the Obama campaign’s success has been his “cool” factor and numerous celebrity endorsements.
2. Some voters, not having done much research at the time they were being polled, merely defaulted on Obama’s name since he had been put out there so often as the “cool” candidate, but, shortly before voting, researched both candidates and changed their minds.
3. Some voters merely didn’t want to seem uncool when polled, and so lied to the pollster.
4. Some voters originally did intend to vote for Obama based on his “cool” factor, but, as the primary day neared, the importance of the election weighed more heavily on their minds and ultimately dissuaded them from voting for someone so inexperienced.
In essence, it can be described as voter procrastination in regards to thinking. Some voters answer pollsters before they do research, before the weight of the importance of the election hits them, and before they’ve fully thought through their decision. I call this voter irregularity, which we observed so often in the primaries, the Obama Effect.
Experience is stronger in the ballot booth than in the polls.