In a post today at MyDD, Chris Bowers talks about the difference between live-interview polling and online polling in the Democratic field. Hillary Clinton does much better in live-interview polling while she is statistically tied with Barack Obama in online polling. Bowers proposes that one reason for the difference may be social pressure where “Democrats don’t tell live-interviewers that they are currently leaning against Clinton”.
Is this a new version of the “Bradley effect”? The Bradley effect refers to when pre-election telephone polls overstate the strength of black candidates. White voters, when talked to by an actual person, feel pressured to say they’ll support the black candidate to avoid the impression of being a racist. However, in last year’s Tennessee Senate election, Harold Ford proved to be an exception and actually outperformed pre-election polling on Election Day.
Hillary Clinton is the first viable female candidate to run for the presidency, so there may be the emergence of a new polling phenomenon similar to the Bradley effect. When voters are asked over the telephone whom they support for the Democratic nomination, they may say they support Clinton as to not appear sexist. Online polling removes the personal aspect of polling and may offer more accurate numbers.