'Bradley Effect' And The Obama Presidential Bid As the presidential candidates head into the general election some analysts, citing the "Bradley Effect," question whether polls showing Sen. Barack Obama's lead over Sen. John McCain will shrink at the voting booth. The term was coined after L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley lost his bid for governor of Calif.
NPR logo

'Bradley Effect' And The Obama Presidential Bid

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/95929466/95929460" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Bradley Effect' And The Obama Presidential Bid

'Bradley Effect' And The Obama Presidential Bid

'Bradley Effect' And The Obama Presidential Bid

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/95929466/95929460" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) greets people at Amway Arena October 20, 2008 in Orlando, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The latest polls show Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with a clear lead over rival Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, for example, shows Obama leading McCain 53 to 44 percent. But throughout the campaign analysts have questioned whether some voters are actually being honest with pollsters when they say they'll vote for an African-American.

It's been called the Bradley effect. The term was coined after then-Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley lost his bid for governor of California in 1982. Bradley had a solid lead in the polls going into Election Day, but then lost by a slim margin. Was it because he was black? And could the same dynamic be at play in this election?

Veteran Democratic pollster Ron Lester and Blair Levin, who worked on the Bradley campaign, discusses the issue. Levin recently wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times, arguing that Bradley's loss had nothing to do with his race.