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New Research on the "Wilder effect"

Although many considered the poll an outlier when it was published nine days before the Virginia gubernatorial race in 1989, a Washington Post poll showing Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder with a "commanding" lead was among those that spawned a generation of research on potential bias in public opinion surveys on contests between black and white candidates.

The poll showed Wilder, who is African American, with a 15-point advantage over Republican J. Marshall Coleman, a white candidate. On Election Day, Wilder squeaked by with a razor thin margin of under 1 percent to become the country's first black governor.

At the time of the Post poll, both campaigns put Wilder's final-stretch lead at about five percentage points, as reported alongside the Post's own poll.

Nonetheless, the "Wilder effect" - where whites overstate their support for black candidates - merged with the "Bradley effect" - where whites say they have no opinion when they really support a white candidate in match-ups between white and black candidates - in lore, casting doubts on the accuracy of polls in such contests.

Despite years of successes polling just such campaigns, the theory lingers. But a new analysis by Daniel Hopkins may yield a better understanding of the dynamics at play.

Hopkins shows how any "Wilder effect" that existed in the early 1990s has disappeared, countering the notion that there is a systematic bias in such polls. Instead, he argues that the effect that did exist resulted from the particularities of those earlier elections. Those dynamics could return in this year's election, but it is far too simplistic to assume a problem.

Hat top to Prof. Sides from the Monkey Cage.

By Jon Cohen  |  July 29, 2008; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Next: Hardest Hit: Reaching Low-Wage Workers


This is a great article. This explains all the information behind the statistics. Can this blog please replace Factchecker?

Posted by: George | July 29, 2008 10:16 PM | Report abuse

For uncensored news please bookmark:

Obama Doesn't Sweat. He should.

by Greg Palast

Greg Palast on the Thom Hartmann show - Obama Doesn't Sweat,

In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.

In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives - overwhelming Black voters.

In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.

In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.

My investigations partner spoke directly to Barack Obama about it. (When your partner is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., candidates take your phone call.) The cool, cool Senator Obama told Kennedy he was "concerned" about the integrity of the vote in the Southwest in particular.

He's concerned. I'm sweating.

It's time SOMEBODY raised the alarm about these missing voters; not to save Obama's candidacy - journalists should stay the heck away from partisan endorsements - but raise the alarm to save our sick democracy.

For the rest please go:

Posted by: che | August 1, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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