Barack Obama clings to a narrow poll lead in the swing states. What might happen in the final days to change that result? Well, there’s the Incumbent Rule, which says that late-undecideds break overwhelmingly for challengers. Mark Blumenthal discusses and dismisses it here–though I’m sure Republicans would be happy to take Erikson and Wlezien’s alternative “frontrunner” rule, which says undecides break against whoever is in the lead. But OK, we’ll leave the Incumbent Rule to Dick Morris.
Has everyone suddenly forgotten about the equally potent Bradley Effect? The Bradley Effect was such a hot topic in 2008 that I dressed as it for Halloween (it was a fairly abstract costume). This year hardly anyone mentions it (with a few exceptions). Why? The Bradley Rule holds that voters will be reluctant to tell pollsters they are voting against an African-American for fear of being labelled racist. It allegedly hurt Tom Bradley in 1982 and Douglas Wilder in 1989. It didn’t seem to hurt Obama in 2008. But does that mean it won’t appear in 2012? Voters who were genuinely enthusiastic about Obama in 2008–and therefore told pollsters they were voting for him and voted for him–might have second thoughts in 2012, but be reluctant to express them for fear of either seeming cruel (to a pol they tend to like personally) or racist (last hired, first fired!). Forbes Rich Karlgaard notes that the more MSNBC hosts and other Dems label Obama opponents racists, the more they discourage disaffected, former Obama supporters from telling the truth to pollsters–i.e. the more they resurrect a Bradley Effect.
You’d think this would be a possibility pundits would take seriously right around … now. At the least it will give them something to talk about.