If you believe the polls, Barack Obama is going to be the next U.S. president; however, certain experts are recommending caution before making this assumption. The University of Stanford has recently published a study on how Barack Obama could easily lose his advantage come election day, simply because of the colour of his skin.
In certain circumstances, there is a gap between the polls and what actually happens in the voting booth. Even though it's true that there are those who will never, ever vote for a black candidate, these individuals will generally never admit it publicly. "Racists most frequently deny their voting bias against race, because it's socially unacceptable," explains Gary Weaver, a professor involved with the study at Stanford University. However once in the privacy of the voting booth, these people will probably vote against Barack Obama; they are not ready to elect a black president. In the United States, this phenomenon is called the "Bradley Effect."
The racial factor is without a doubt one of the most troubling variables about the American election; and it's exactly to flush out implicit racist reflexes, those that are buried and escape confession, that the authors of the above-mentioned study had to survey their white counterparts in a subversive fashion. Their numbers show at any rate that racist tendencies haven't disappeared in the United States. 40% of the whites surveyed apply at least one negative quality to all blacks, from 'grouchy' to 'lazy'. These percentages diminish significantly among non-Republicans. However, even in Democrats surveyed the findings are still substantial; almost 20% of Democrats find blacks 'preachy', for example. Among independent voters, 24% judge blacks to be 'violent'.
Sarah Palin plays the "Bradley line"
Since last weekend, Sarah Palin is playing a dangerous game with this old deep-seated racism within the white population. "This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America," she claimed during a rally in Colorado. "We see America as the greatest force for good in this world. (...) Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?" Palin is referring to a New York Times article about Bill Ayers, an old anti-Vietnam-war activist. In presenting the Democratic candidate as a sympathizer of radical leftism, Sarah Palin attempts to raise the old fears with regards to the black senator.
The Obama Effect vs. the Bradley Effect
Nevertheless, Obama's supporters are confident. His campaign most notably is hopeful that they can rally non-voters. More than 90% of blacks should vote for the Illinois senator, as well as a majority of hispanics and a very large number of young people. In this last category, Obama has a lead of 27 points on his rival John McCain. Can the "Obama effect" counterbalance the "Bradley effect"?