REPOST: Join StopDog on a conference call on race in the race THURSDAY

Join us for a conference call on race, implicit bias, and the election

Like the “Willie Horton” ad of twenty years ago, the most effective messages that play on racism do it in ways that we mostly do not notice.   But it isn’t a code to be heard only by unrepentant racists – it’s a clever psychological trick to play on the unconscious racial attitudes that most of us hold, but few of us are conscious of. 

Want to know more about how it works?  Join us on Thursday, October 30, 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST) for a free conference call on race in electoral politics. The call will give an overview of scientific research on implicit bias, a history of how political groups have used it to manipulate us, and some examples of how these tactics are being employed now, how they will continue to corrode our political life, and begin to talk about how to stop that corrosion. To RSVP click HERE.

Speakers will include Maya Wiley, Director of the Center for Social Inclusion, Lynne Wolf, CSI Advocacy Coordinator, Ludovic Blain, who runs, and Terry Keleher, from the Applied Research Center 

To RSVP click HERE.

Politico: Ben Smith: Confederate battle flag, Obama yard sign

Politico: Ben Smith

Confederate battle flag, Obama yard sign


A house in Martinsville, Indiana, via my colleague Marty Kady.

Another reminder of how complicated this race stuff is.


Newsweek: Stumper: Should Dems Worry About an ‘Obama Effect’?

Newsweek: Stumper

Should Dems Worry About an ‘Obama Effect’?

The Bradley Effect is dead! Long live the Obama Effect!

Or at least that’s the cri de coeur coming from conservative circles as the 2008 presidential race enters its final sprint. Writing this morning for Salon and the Weekly Standard, a pair of political consultants–Bill Greener (a Republican) and Arnon A. Mishkin–seize on the same statistical argument to explain how John McCain, who trails Barack Obama by 7.3 percent in the latest RealClear Politics national polling average, could still win the White House eight days from now. Neither operative claims that pre-election polls are overstating the black candidate’s support–perhaps because research has shown pretty convincingly that the Bradley Effect no longer exists (if it ever did). Instead, both posit the existence of an Obama Effect. According to this theory, most undecideds are actually decided–for McCain. Which means, in turn, that the Republican nominee will benefit from a big boost on Nov. 4.

Greener and Mishkin advance different explanations for their hypothesis. Mishkin attributes it to “social acceptability.” Given Obama’s overwhelming momentum, he writes, “it seems likely that if voters are not ready to tell a pollster that they are with Obama, they are unlikely to get there… Where there is a perception that there is a ‘socially acceptable’ choice, respondents who do not articulate it are likely not to agree with it.” Greener, meanwhile, is more blunt. “If you’re a black candidate running against a white candidate, what you see is what you get,” he writes. “And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an incumbent or a challenger. If you’re not polling above 50 percent, you should be worried.”

So should Obama be worried?

I’d say no. As always, the standard caveat applies: anything can happen between now and Nov. 4.  But there are a few problems with the Greener/Mishkin theory–at least as an explanation of why McCain might still win (a claim, it should be noted, that only Greener makes). 

First of all, Greener’s claim that undecideds break overwhelmingly against black candidates on Election Day doesn’t really hold water. As evidence, he points to four races from 2006–the Tennessee and Maryland senate races and the Massachusetts and Ohio governor’s races–then compares the pre-election polls to the final results. In each case, he says, the black candidate’s support held steady while the white candidate’s support shot up. Unfortunately, Greener chooses to cherry-pick surveys that support his thesis instead of using the more comprehensive RCP averages as the basis of his comparison. As a result, his conclusion is misleading. 

The New Republic: More Cork Popping

The New Republic (John Judis, 10/29/08)

More Cork Popping

I mention the Bradley effect because I think, too, that McCain and Sarah Palin’s attack against Obama for advocating “spreading the wealth” and for “socialism” and for pronouncing the civil rights revolution a “tragedy” because it didn’t deal with the distribution of wealth is aimed ultimately at white working class undecided voters who would construe “spreading the wealth” as giving their money to blacks. It’s the latest version of Reagan’s “welfare queen” argument from 1980. It if it works, it won’t be because most white Americans actually oppose a progressive income tax, but because they fear that Obama will inordinately favor blacks over them. I don’t doubt that this argument will have some effect, but I suspect it’s too late and that worries about McCain and Republican handling of the economy will overshadow these concerns. Bradley Effect? Or Elephant Effect?

Bradley Effect? Or Elephant Effect?

I have received quite a number of requests for comment on the article published by Republican consultant Bill Greener at The article purports to find evidence of a “Bradley Effect” in Senate and Gubernatorial Elections in involving black candidates in 2006. 

So, I’ll comment on it.

Problem #1: Greener cites data from four races: the Tennessee and Maryland senate races, and the Massachusetts and Ohio governor’s races. Greene, however, ignores a fifth race, the Pennsylvania governor’s race, in which a white Democrat, Ed Rendell, competed against a black Republican, Lynn Swann.

Rendell defeated Swann in this race. However, Rendell’s margin of victory was no larger than that predicted by the polls (in fact, it was incrementally smaller). Greener completely ignores this race.

(There was actually a sixth race involving a black candidate, that being in Mississippi, where Trent Lott won re-election to the Senate over Erik Fleming. However, there was essentially no polling of this race, so it isn’t useful to us.)

Problem #2: Greener cherry-picks his data in literally every race. He isn’t even subtle about it. Here is a good example:

How about Tennessee, where black Democrat Harold Ford was up against white Republican Bob Corker for Republican Bill Frist’s old U.S. Senate seat? Harold Ford did slightly better than Steele and Blackwell. The day before the election, he was within a point of Corker, 47 to 48 with 5 percent undecided, according to OnPoint Polling. On Nov. 7, Corker got 50.7 percent of the vote, Ford got 48 and an assortment of independents took 1.3 percent. Ford was able to pick up one out of every five undecided voters.

OnPoint was the only polling firm to show the Tennessee race within 1 point on the eve of the election. Meanwhile, Gallup showed a 3-point lead for Corker, Rasmussen showed a 4-point lead for Corker, SurveyUSA and Pollmetrix showed 5-point leads, and Mason-Dixon showed a 12-point lead. Corker eventually won by 2.7 points, smaller than the margin predicted by all firms butOnPoint.

Count Us Out: ACORN Time To Play The Race Card (AGAIN)

Count Us Out

ACORN Time To Play The Race Card (AGAIN)

The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now is launching a major ad campaign to accuse the GOP of vote suppression because of the concerns they’ve raised over ACORN’s rampant voter registration fraud.A new ACORN television ad that will go up nationally on Wednesday shows an image of a young black man while a narrator says “John McCain and the Republicans are trying to keep him an untold others from voting. Tell John McCain not this time.”


ACORN is also blaming Fox News for potentially depriving Americans of the right to vote. “And then there’s Fox News, accusing ACORN of all kinds of criminal activities hundreds-HUNDREDS-of times during the past few days,” said a recent email from ACORN asking for support from their members.

The Republican National Committee has denounced ACORN’s charges.  “ACORN’s most recent charges of voter suppression seem to be yet another attempt by this questionable organization to waste valuable taxpayer money and cloud their own record of voter registration fraud,” said the RNC’s Chief Counsel Sean Cairncross. “ Just as a losing Kerry campaign election manual in 2004 urged activists to lodge a ‘pre-emptive strike’ claiming voter intimidation regardless of validity, ACORN is taking a page straight from the Democrats’ playbook.  The only voter suppression taking place is that which prevented the false registration of ‘voters’ like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the Dallas Cowboys starting lineup from poisoning the American electoral system with fraudulent ballots.”




Perhaps seeing no contradiction with her tut-tut over the robo-calls, Palin said McCain should use Rev. Wright, Obama’s controversial former pastor, against him. Politically, she is right.  Morally, he is.

But Palin knows that playing the race card is a tried-and-true election wedge and would have done more in one week than all the fake controversies, like ACORN, like Ayers, like “socialist,” have been able to do for a whole campaign. It still probably would have failed in this unique year. But with the bad economy, the in-the-toilet Republican brand, the debates that Americans thought Obama won handily,  it has became clear that Wright was always McCain’s best shot.

Other McCain supporters from the Palin school are up this week with a Wright ad, going without McCain’s public support. They used Obama’s two young daughters. Classy!

A New York Times magazine article on the flailing McCain campaign speculated that McCain’s concern for his own daughter might be one reason he does not want to play the race card.  His adopted daughter, now 17, not too long ago found out that she was the alleged illegitimate baby of McCain and a black prostitute, according to circulars with false information spread by Bush minions in 2000.

McCain employs those very same minions, some of whom had beenencouraging him to use Wright. But McCain does not want to be branded a racist, as he surely would have been, doubtlessly by the writer of this blog among many, many others. Playing the race card, from Willie Horton to Jesse Helm’s “hands ad,” is after all, racist and would be properly classed as such.

Palin on the other hand wouldn’t have cared. This church-going woman has just the kind of situational morality that fits modern politics.