October 27, 2008

YOU SOMETIMES SEE PEOPLE WEARING "I'M WITH STUPID" T-SHIRTS...:

Call It 'The Obama Effect': Why undecided voters will swing to McCain. (Arnon A. Mishkin, 10/27/2008, Weekly Standard)

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.

They all amount to essentially the same pattern. Call it "the Social Effect." 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. Are they lying? Or just genuinely torn about taking that route or another? I am not going to psychoanalyze what is going on in their heads, but in the end, the pattern tends to be that those undecided voters vote against that "socially acceptable" choice.

In fact, we saw a preview of this during the Democratic primaries this year. Typically, Hillary Clinton won substantial majorities of all late deciders (those who decided in the last three days of the primary)--i.e. Obama tended to lose the "undecided vote."


...seldom wearing one that says, "I'm Stupid"

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2008 8:16 AM
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