This presidential contest is down to a clash of two “effects:” the Bradley Effect and the Facebook Effect.
Let me explain.
Yes, there are white voters, especially older ones, who will hide their prejudice until, alone in the voting booth, they vote against a black candidate because of his race. That apparently happened to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who was ahead in the final polls for California governor in 1982 but lost the election.
Depending on the poll, the difference was perhaps 6 percent. No one knows how big that “Bradley” number right now. There may be some Bradley voters lurking among Obama’s supporters, but it’s more likely the Bradley types are hiding among the allegedly undecided.
If you are a white person 50 years or older and you say you are still undecided, my guess is that you probably are not going to vote for Obama—or maybe (if Obama is lucky) you won’t vote at all.
But this year there is another force at work: young voters, especially those under 30. Most of them are more or less oblivious to race in their political thinking. They have grown up in an integrated world. Or, if they do take race into account, they like the fact that Obama is a mixed-race African-American with an international background.
But there are several colleges here (Hofstra being one) and a new generation of students and young voters who have been drawn by Obama (and, earlier, by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton) to register.
Bradley or Facebook? We’ll know soon enough.