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Wondering What is the Bradley Effect? Here's the Easy Explanation

Uttara Manohar Jun 10, 2019
The Bradley effect is a famous term used as part of the elections only when a non-white candidate competes against a white one in the presidential race. Let's see why this effect is called so, and why this happens during the elections.
As the American presidential elections witnessed the competition between the first African-American presidential candidate Barack Obama and republic nominee John McCain, some experts wondered whether the election would witness the Bradley Effect.
Although, the reverse Bradley Effect was seen in Iowa, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama fared better than expected against Hillary Clinton, in the caucuses of that state.

What is the Bradley Effect?

The Bradley Effect is a phenomenon characterized by an incongruity in the voter opinion poll estimates and the actual election outcomes, specifically in case of non-white political candidates in American political campaigns.
Thus, the non-white candidates tend to perform better in opinion polls and garner relatively less number of votes in the actual elections when they are running against white candidates.

Why is it Called the Bradley Effect?

The phenomenon is named after Tom Bradley, who was an African-American Democratic candidate who ran for the office of Governor of California in 1982. He was campaigning against the Republican candidate George Deukmejian, who was white.
In all the vote opinion polls leading up to the election, Bradley had a clear lead. The media claimed that he would win the election. However, on the election night, he went on to lose to the Republican candidate.

Why Does the Bradley Effect Occur?

There are two primary explanations for this effect occurring. The first reason being a large number of voters do not admit that they would vote against a black candidate―since they can be perceived as racist or conservative.
Owing to the fact that a section of people state that they would vote for a non-white candidate and do not actually do so―there is a discrepancy in the results of the opinion polls and the actual election results.
On the contrary, there are some experts who think that it is not racism and conservative issues, but a mere case of indecisive voters. Either way, both reasons contribute towards a different end result.