Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Open Forum: Did Queers Have Something Similar to the "Bradley Effect" Occur?

I have rehashed this entry because the election is over and it appears the "bradley effect" has occured on queer propositions.

"The Bradley effect, less commonly called the Wilder effect, is a proposed explanation for observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some American political campaigns when a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. Named for Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in some voter polls, the Bradley effect refers to an alleged tendency on the part of some voters to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his/her white opponent." (Wikipedia)
The "Bradley Effect" was a shocking dose of reality about the inconsistency of polls to determine how truthful people are about their voting decisions. It also went on to show the racial implications of the governor's race.

While it is now 26 years later, the notion of a "Bradley Effect" has resurfaced because Barack Obama, a bi-racial candidate was running for the office of the presidency of the United States of America. It became interesting for political pundits and insiders to ponder whether people were indicating they would vote for the democratic ticket while in private would vote against it because of the racial implications. It turned out that not only did this not occur, but Obama defeated all odds and carried traditionally republican strongholds.

I wonder however whether this can be applied to certain LGBT issues that were on the ballot this Nov. 4th. The marriage amendments in Arizona, and Florida this year have passed, California is still too close to call but likely passed as well. There is also the adoption ban by unmarried co-habitating couples in Arkansas. All of these referendums hold major implications for Americans straight and gay.

People opposed to gay rights often argue that they "have gay friends" or are "not bigoted against gays." It has become increasingly unpopular to be associated with "homophobia." Is it possible there is a segment of the population that claims they will vote against these marriage amendments and in favor of LGBT rights while secretly espousing another point of view to hide their own fear of being labeled a bigot? The exit poll data showed us defeating the bans in California, Florida, and Arkansas, so why are the results different?


Scot said...

This is one of my fears. But IIRC, the polls were right (+ or - a percent or two) about our marriage amendment in Utah.

Queers United said...

Someone on another forum mentioned an interesting twist I hadn't contemplated. When I posted this I thought about how many people might be afraid to be labeled bigots and say they are voting no a marriage amendment when indeed they plan to vote yes.

I think I was viewing it from a progressive point of view. What about those in religious, conservative communities? Maybe they are saying they will vote yes to save face in the church and community but will vote no. That is an interesting thought.

James said...

California: VOTE NO on PROP 8
Florida: VOTE NO on PROP 2
Arizona: VOTE NO on PROP 102

It's called social desirability bias. Yes it does exist. We will have to be many point up in the polls to win.

Queers United said...

I'll be the first to pitch in on the updated entry. I think there are 2 reasons this has happened. One, I think the queer "bradley effect" is real for the reasons stated above. Two, in California many liberal voters probably saw the results from the East coast, and central states and didn't bother to go vote. This resulted in fewer "No on 8" votes.

Julie said...

I am so angry about Prop 8, I can't even come up with anything coherent to comment about. I just wanted to let you know that the people of California really messed up.

space said...

First time commenter...

I'm straight (as best I can tell) but I'm pissed off about this. Just immediately after they grant it, they take it away???

That said, I've been reflecting on the issue, and even those of us who would happily vote for gay rights are a bit insecure about their sexuality. I don't think I'm quite a Kinsey Zero. And I've often tried to repress what bi-curiosity I did have.

Thing is, though, this just points out the importance of gay rights and gay acceptance. So that people who have even weak inclinations toward the opposite sex no longer have to be afraid if they aren't zeroes. If it were officially considered "normal" and fine, what would I have to worry about?

Ily said...

I feel like at least in CA, a lot of people were lulled into a false sense of security. Living in San Francisco, I had no idea how anti-gay other parts of the state were, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

Queers United said...

Julie - I am so frustrated too, thanks for voting on the side of equality.

Space - You don't have to be afraid, sexuality lies on a continuum and you may be bisexual with a percentage of inclination favoring one gender or another. Please join us here to share your thoughts and explore your sexuality. I also suggest the website which has a forum to discuss it. You can also call the GLBT national hotline free or email them at

Ily - San Francisco is so different than the rest of the world, hence the term "san francisco values" but one day we will all have the values of equality.

space said...

Thanks for the invitation, QU. I probably ought to do some more serious research into it just to lay the issue to rest.

From my limited understanding, though, many people who don't fall entirely neatly into a box choose their own self-identifications, such that people with roughly similar feelings may not identify as the same thing. I know a few Kinsey 4s who consider themselves gay, and on the other side fo the spectrum, a Kinsey 2 (or so she appears from general behavior) who considers herself bi even though she's never had a steady girlfriend. So there's a bit of subjectivity to how people define their orientations.

Connie said...

I'm ashamed to be a Floridian today because of the Amendment that was passed is similar to Prop 8. I am a Christian and am not afraid to say that I believe in equal rights as well as love be it straight or gay.

Connie said...

I should have said the Amendment if not passed would have been like Prop 8. This now goes before FL House of Reps to pass to only allow marriage and domestic rights between a man and a woman.

Queers United said...

Connie thanks for your support as a straight ally. I thought once the amendment was passed the constitution gets re-written. The legislature has to approve it? How many need to co-sign and how likely is that to get through?

Queers United said...

"We've learned from losses on other anti-gay ballot initiatives, here and in other states (Wisconsin, Colorado, etc.), that people lie to pollsters about their prejudices. There is typically a 7-10 point difference between what people tell the pollster about their views on LGBT rights and how they really vote. In other words 7-10% say they believe in equality but actually vote against us."

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