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Redefining "The Bradley Effect"

It’s part of my job at SoCal Connected to be Californi-centric in all things, and that’s rarely hard to do given how much of a bellwether we are to the rest of the nation.

What surprised me doing this story was how much the Barack Obama campaign had been foreshadowed in California politics of the 1970s and ‘80s. First, by Tom Bradley’s successful run for L.A. mayor in 1973 ... a product of a new kind of coalition-building between Southside Blacks and Westside liberals. Though many later soured on him, I think we have to give Mayor Bradley credit for pioneering in the kind of multi-ethnic consensus politics that Barack Obama has excelled in.

And I don’t have to remind everyone that for several months there, you couldn’t discuss Obama’s electoral chances without hearing the phrase “the Bradley Effect” - Named after his 1982 run for California governor. Ahead in the polls, he ended up losing … giving rise to a theory that many voters will say one thing to the pollsters, then vote for the white guy when the polling booth curtain is closed. Whether that was what was actually behind Bradley’s defeat that year is still being debated. What’s certain is that particular aspect of the Bradley legacy we can safely say was put to rest this Election Day. Or maybe we should redefine the Bradley Effect to reflect not his one great failure, but his great success in creating a post-racial kind of politics.

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