If Barack Obama loses in November, the media will surely cite the Bradley Effect, the theory that voters lie to pollsters to hide racial biases. It’s named after Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles who lost the 1982 governor’s race in California, despite huge leads in the polls. But Bradley didn’t lose because he was black, argues Sal Russo, who worked on rival George Deukmejian’s campaign. He was too liberal.
Inside the Deukmejian campaign, the results shocked no one. Their private polling showed the contest tightening in the race’s final days, as Deukmejian began attacking Bradley’s record on crime and gun control. As with Obama, a fawning media overlooked Bradley’s flaws. “Bradley was defeated because he was too liberal, not too black,” Russo concludes. Obama could suffer the same fate.