Monday, October 27, 2008

Call It 'The Obama Effect' - Why undecided voters will swing to McCain.

As Election Day draws near, people are wondering if the presidential race will tighten. Will the undecideds swing to McCain, or will Obama continue to maintain his 4 to 11 point lead?

Some point to a "Bradley effect" suggesting that voters are hiding their true feelings from pollsters because of Obama's race, while others say the Bradley effect either never existed or no longer exists. People who think there is a Bradley effect believe that the substantial majority of undecideds are likely to vote for McCain, enabling him to close some of the gap.

McCain should win a larger share of undecided voters than Obama, but it has little to do with race.

With Obama outspending McCain by upwards of 4 to 1, getting enormous traction with newspaper editorial boards, generating the enthusiasm to bring out crowds measured in the tens of thousands, and with Palin treated as more of a punch line than a candidate by the press--it seems likely that if voters are not ready to tell a pollster that they are with Obama, they are unlikely to get there.

But the phenomenon of undecided voters' breaking for McCain need not be called the "Bradley effect." Call it the "Bloomberg effect"--where after $100 million of spending, his mayoral challenger was able to capture essentially all of the 10 point undecided vote. Or call it the "Clinton effect"--where almost all the undecided vote swung away from the popular incumbent and went to Bob Dole. Or call it the "Reagan
effect"--where even during the Republican 1980 primaries, voters were apparently reluctant to say they were going to vote for the "elderly washed up actor" and he got the preponderance of the undecided vote

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