PDA

View Full Version : "Bradley effect" due to guns, not race...


bwiese
11-04-2008, 4:01 PM
from

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15220.html

His last paragraph indicates he doesn't 'get it' about Obamacide & guns - but still...


--------------------------------------------------------------------

It was guns, not race, that affected Bradley


Joe Mathews 11/4/2008


Nelson Rising, chairman of Tom Bradley’s 1982 campaign for California governor, still remembers the phone call. Bradley called him shortly after 4 a.m. on a long Election Night, when it was clear Bradley had lost to Republican George Deukmejian.

“You were right,” Bradley told Rising a bit wearily.

With those words, Bradley, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, acknowledged that a political mistake had cost him the governorship. And, despite all the theories that the election produced a “Bradley effect” that could hurt black candidates such as Bradley — and, a quarter-century later, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama — the mayor himself knew his loss had little to do with race or polls.

The main problem was guns. Against Rising’s advice, Bradley had endorsed Proposition 15, a statewide ballot initiative that would have put a freeze on purchases of new guns. Bradley and Proposition 15 both had a lead in the polls when Bradley decided to back the initiative. But there was a huge backlash against Proposition 15 in inland, conservative California precincts. The resulting turnout was so overwhelming that it took down Bradley — just as Rising had predicted in a campaign meeting months earlier.

“I will never forget that meeting,” Rising recalled. “I said, ‘I don’t own a gun. I don’t intend to own a gun. If I could design a world without guns, I would. But Tom, if you support this, you can’t win.’”

On Election Night, Deukmejian’s team came to the same conclusion. “Without Tom Bradley endorsing Prop. 15,” said Steve Merksamer, a former Deukmejian chief of staff, “we would have lost.”

Over the past few weeks, I examined polling and news stories from the 1982 race and talked with dozens of major players in the Bradley and Deukmejian campaigns. There is no independent data or evidence that suggests that race decided the election, a fate many have suggested could befall Obama. And only two survivors of that campaign expressed any belief in the idea that the 1982 California governor’s race saw a Bradley effect — a racist vote that was concealed from pollsters. And even those two campaign workers, former Bradley aides Phil Depoian and Bill Elkins, say that, without Proposition 15, Bradley almost certainly would have won anyway.

According to those who were there, the real lessons of the Bradley campaign involve the dangers posed by divisive issues and by a candidate’s own allies. Bradley’s campaign suffered three self-inflicted wounds it could not overcome.

The first: guns. Proposition 15 had been qualified for the ballot by men who were Bradley’s friends; chief among them was John Phillips. Some Bradley aides say they tried to persuade Phillips to wait and qualify the measure for a later election, so as not to hurt the mayor’s campaign. But Phillips, now an attorney in Washington, doesn’t recall such appeals.

What Phillips does remember is having all eyes on him at the Election Night party at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. “Everybody blamed me for the defeat of the first black governor of California — I know Bradley felt that himself,” said Phillips. Some people in the campaign still do. Today, in one of life’s little ironies, Phillips is raising money for Obama, and Phillips’ wife, journalist Linda Douglass, serves as a top adviser and press aide to the Democratic nominee.

The second: absentee ballots. The 1982 election in California was the first under new laws that made it easier to vote absentee. Democrats had lobbied for the changes, but Bradley’s campaign did little to take advantage. Republicans, led largely by people involved in that year’s U.S. Senate campaign of then-San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson, skillfully exploited the new rules, asking GOP voters to cast absentee ballots if possible.

“I think it was significant,” said Wilson, who served eight years in the Senate and two terms as California governor. “We figured, ‘We’ll get a higher percentage of our registered voters to vote than the Democrats will get of their registered voters.’”

It worked. Bradley won in exit polls because he actually did win more votes among those who actually went to a polling place. The huge Republican advantage in absentee ballots provided Deukmejian with the victory. This phenomenon persisted in California for several election cycles. In the 1990 gubernatorial race between Wilson and Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat won in some exit polls but lost the race because of absentee votes.

Finally, the third: low African-American turnout. This was a three-part problem, involving black voters, regional rivalries and, of all things, football.

Bradley, wary of being seen as “the black candidate,” didn’t campaign in the black community and didn’t do enough to turn out black voters, some aides recalled. “The position we took was, ‘My God, this is a historical event and black folks are going to turn out as never before,’” said Elkins, one of Bradley’s closest aides. “And instead, the turnout did not reach the level we thought it would.”

Black turnout — in fact, Democratic turnout, in general — was particularly low in the Bay Area. Campaign veterans on both sides of the race believe Northern Californians didn’t trust Bradley, in large part because he was mayor of their unpopular regional rival. To make matters worse, Los Angeles, under Bradley, had lured away the popular Oakland Raiders football team that same fall.

“It was about football,” said Bill Norris, a longtime Bradley supporter who was a federal appellate judge at the time. “The turnout in black precincts in Oakland was below expectations, and I believe that’s because of hard feelings that LA had stolen the team.”

These three factors explain the inaccuracy of public polls showing a Bradley lead. Surveys did not account for the unexpectedly low black turnout and the surge of mostly conservative voters who cared about the gun issue.

If guns, mail ballots and a weak black turnout constitute the real Bradley effect, it seems unlikely that such an effect will hurt Obama.

The Democratic presidential nominee has handled each issue differently than Bradley did. Obama organized African-American communities. His campaign has a huge absentee ballot effort. And he’s distanced himself from gun control, going so far as to endorse the idea that individual gun ownership is a constitutional right.


Joe Mathews, an Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation,
writes about California political history.

dexter9659
11-04-2008, 4:30 PM
I read this at work today. I laughed at the quote "going so far as to endorse the idea that individual gun ownership is a constitutional right". To me that is just like saying "going so far as to endorse the idea that individual freedom of speech is a constitutional right"

AKman
11-04-2008, 4:41 PM
Bradley was well respected by white people that knew him. I never thought it was race, but I didn't remember Proposition 15. Unfortunately, Obama seems to have fooled a lot of people about his true view of the 2nd Amendment.

Fate
11-04-2008, 5:58 PM
Unfortunately, Obama seems to have fooled a lot of people about his true view of the 2nd Amendment.It won't take long, should he become the next POTUS, for his true view to be made clear. :mad: