Before the Iowa caucus I cited the potential of a reverse Wilder effect there. For those who don't know, back in 1989 Doug Wilder, a black candidate for Virginia governor was leading by 9 points in the polls, but ended up winning by only 0.5%. Prior to him in 1982 Tom Bradley, the popular black Los Angeles Mayor (a city that was still majority white at the time, by the way), was leading polls in the California governors race en route to a narrow defeat. In both instances, a sizable number people were telling the pollsters one thing over the phone, and doing another in the voting booth.
Such is the nature of some people in a country that has gone far in making blatantly racist statements unacceptable (well...sort of), but still has very far to go on dealing with prejudice sentiments.
My belief last week was that there was a real potential for a REVERSE Wilder effect in the Iowa caucus. And tonights results provide validation.
Simply, a caucus does not allow prejudices to surface in the confines of the private voting booth, but instead forces those who might be susceptible to the Wilder effect to more strenuously evaluate how little substance exists in their prejudicial beliefs which otherwise would prohibit them from supporting a candidate they've already said they would. Couple this with raucous Obama caucus corners reminding people of all the reasons to support Obama, along with pressure for neighbors and friends and you can understand how the Wilder effect could in effect be defeated.
Indeed the public nature of the caucus presents the potential to REVERSE the Wilder effect. Whether the Obama people want to believe it or not, so many white people support him because they want to send a message that America has come much further on race relations than we actually have, or that "America isn't racist; there just aren't enough black people getting off their butts." Given the opportunity to validate these naive and misguided beliefs regarding the state of race relations in the country as a part of their supreme denial of the impact of white privilege and many people - especially in a public setting likely jumped with joy:
I've been thinking about the Wilder effect here (5+ / 0-)
Does it have a smaller or larger impact when people have to PUBLICLY declare their preference?
Might we see a reverse-Wilder effect in this situation? "What Jane, you don't like Black people - is that why you're in the Edwards corner?"
There's a sizeable number of white people who support Barack at least in part because they feel supporting him means America has turned the corner on race relations and they personall[y] are not racist. "See we give black people chances."
So if anything, a reverse-Wilder effect might be in play here.
New Hampshire, where people vote privately might be a completely different ballgame though.
And indeed it was.
You see in a regular voting situation in any major statewide race that includes a black candidate in a majority non-black voting area against a viable white candidate, as a rule always deduct 5 points in the polls for the black man. Deduct even more if you're in a Southern state with felony disenfranchisement laws.
This is part of the reason I always chuckle when I see people talk about an Obama realignment. The Wilder/Bradley effect coupled with the words "Muslim," "Hussein," "Obama," "atheist" and "inexperienced," along with the fact that Barack has never really been forced to fight the Republican machine on unbalanced turf and it's clear to me at least that the route to the White House for a black Democratic Party nominee requires a lot more than hollow messages of "Hope" and "Change." (I support another candidate, but for far more substantive reasons than electability).
So while the majority of pundits will have long discussions over the next week dissecting why the polls in New Hampshire were so off, I like most other black Americans will look on to these talking head idiots thinking "Did these fools forget this is America?"