Alan Ehrenhalt is a former executive editor of GOVERNING.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's pretty clear there was no "Bradley effect" on election night, but I think there was something oddly analogous: a "Stevens effect" that made the Alaska senator competitive -- and quite possibly victorious-- in his re-election campaign.
Voters don't seem to have been shy anyplace in the country about telling interviewers the truth about their racial attitudes, but in Alaska many of them hid the fact that they really liked and wanted to vote for Stevens despite his conviction on felony charges only days before. There's really no other way to explain why Democratic challenger Mark Begich was so far ahead in the polls right up until Tuesday, but trails as the final votes are being counted.
To put it simply, many voters just don't feel comfortable telling a pollster that they plan to vote for a convicted felon. But they're willing to stick up for him in the privacy of the booth on Election Day. Perhaps sympathy for the accused is replacing racism as the last bastion of undetected voter bias. If so, I think that's at least a modest step forward.
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