Thursday, July 17, 2008

Polls vs. Intrade

Ben Smith at Politico notes today that while Obama only has a slight lead in the polls, he has a commanding lead in the betting markets. On Intrade, Obama leads McCain by 66.7 % to 29%. What to make of this discrepancy? The betting markets seem to be putting little stock into the so called "Bradley effect." If you went out and polled most race scholars, you'd probably get a more skeptical assessment of Obama's chances of winning.

I'm pretty torn in my own view. All of the conventional metrics suggest a Democratic blowout in November (poor economy, better candidate, two Republican terms, superior energy and organization on the Obama side). But the other part of me thinks the betting markets are getting it wrong vis-a-vis Obama's chances.

Case in point, a new Gallup Poll finds significant differences on issues of racism and discrimination towards minorities. Whites (63% of them) are satisfied with how Blacks are treated, while only 35% of Blacks share the same optimism. I think this explains, in part, Obama's under-performance in the latest polling (he leads by about 4% on average). The lingering effects of "Wrightgate" has left a hint of black grievance in the minds of those who are inclined to think that social policy is unfairly skewed away from white people.

This suggests to me that any whiff of black grievance that sticks to the Obama campaign in this election is going to drive poll numbers down. I think we will be innundated with a "black grievance frame" come September. I can almost hear Sean Hannity claiming that Obama is a surrogate for Al Sharpton and wants to make "slave reparations" his first act in office, or maybe it's making Kwanzaa a federal holiday.

I still think the conditions favor him, but there is a race effect. The question is whether that effect is large enough to change the outcome.

No comments: