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The Jewish Bradley Effect

Embarassed by its confident predictions of an Obama victory, the mainstream media these past few days has resurrected the supposed “Bradley Effect” as an explanation for why Barack Obama lost last night in New Hampshire. This political phenomenon is named after Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 California gubernatorial election despite a healthy lead (ranging from 9 to 22 percent in various polls) over his opponent. Some pundits have even argued that white voters told pollsters they were intent on supporting the black candidate but that deep-seated racism got the best of them upon pulling back the curtain.

A friend of mine has long been telling me that a similar sort of phenomenon occurs with Jewish voters. Being a Democrat is almost instinctive for American Jews; being a GOP supporter is akin to eating pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise. As Martin Peretz wrote in 2004, signaling his distaste for John Kerry:

Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth.

Yet since 9/11, I’m convinced that a far larger proportion of Jews than the reported 25 percent voted Republican in 2004. These Jews–perfectly happy calling themselves Bill Clinton Democrats but more hawkish than a party now headed by Nancy Pelosi–don’t want to admit to anyone that they supported a Republican because everyone in their social circle would call them meshugeh. I imagine this is a topic about which John Podhoretz probably has something to say.



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