Baseball Voting Disproves "Bradley Effect"
Are many Americans who have been polled covert racists or aren’t they?
Political pundits have been studying survey data and the results of past elections in an effort to determine the answer to this question, but they are wasting their time.
The answer is "No!!" How do I know this? I’m a sports fan who has a clear memory of reading something many years ago about how baseball all-star voters have become far less racist over the years. On Oct. 27, I decided to research the issue because I wanted to disprove this nonsense about the "Bradley Effect" possibly causing Barack Obama the presidency.
For those who don’t know, the Bradley Effect refers to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley losing the race for California governor in 1982 although he was ahead in the polls. Many political experts attributed this loss to many voters who told pollsters that they would vote for Bradley, but supported Republican George Deukmejian instead because they were covertly racist.
The facts that I found on Oct. 27 are even better for Obama than I remembered.
In "Has Discrimination Lessened Over Time? A Test Using Baseball’s All-Star Vote" (Economic Inquiry Magazine, 1999, Vol. 37, Issue 2, pages 326-352), authors F. Andrew Hanssen and Torben Andersen concluded that there was substantial racism among the millions of people who cast votes for the Baseball All-Star Game during the 1970s, but that it declined dramatically during the 1980s and was gone by 1990. In the 1990s, they added, African-Americans may even have had an advantage.
What the authors did was scrutinize the statistics of baseball players and how many votes they received. From 1958 through 1969, managers chose the members of the two all-star teams, but fans began voting again in 1970. Throughout the 1970s, white players received far more votes than African-American players with similar statistics and often received more votes than blacks with superior statistics.
However, "that vote differential declined sharply as time passed and may even have eventually reversed," they wrote. There was still a differential in the early 1980s when Deukmejian surprised Bradley.
By 1990, whites and African-Americans with equal statistics received about the same amount of votes. But the news gets much better if you’re an Obama fan. Not only are baseball fans not covertly biased against African-Americans, but they’re actually biased in FAVOR of them. This comports with my long-held view that millions of people, including me, think it would be a good thing for this nation if an African-American became president and are, thus, more inclined to vote for one.
According to "Customer-based discrimination against major league baseball players," a 2006 article in Journal of Socio-Economics by C.A. Depken and J.M. Ford, the conclusions in the 1999 article are correct. "The previous findings of no evidence of customer-based racial discrimination against minority players are confirmed," they wrote.
But, Depken and Ford went further after studying the statistics and all-star votes of more recent baseball players and years. "Blacks and Latinos were actually preferred by MLB All-star voters during the 1990s," they wrote. Their studies show that there is a pro-African American bias from voters in the South and Midwest and a pro-Latino bias from voters in the Midwest and West.
And here’s a weird conclusion I learned from my research. According to a study conducted by Tennessee Technological University professor Thomas A. Timmerman titled "Violence and race in professional baseball: Getting better or getting worse?" (2002), African-Americans were hit by pitches at a much greater rate than whites from 1950 to 1969, but from 1970 to 1989 "race was not a significant predictor of being hit."
In fact, Timmerman added, whites and Latinos were hit at a significantly higher rate than Blacks (23 and 29 percent) from 1990 through 1997.
I don’t think I’m naive about racism. In 1982, I was told by a job search consultant that I wasn’t getting job offers because "you’re black." I’m actually white, but the consultant told me that companies weren’t inviting me in for interviews because my resume mentioned my Capitol Hill internship with the first African-American to wage a serious bid for the presidency and, thus, they assumed I must also be an African-American.
Upon his advice, I removed my Capitol Hill internship from the my resume. Within one week, two companies that had just told me there were no openings now wanted to interview me immediately. I was offended by this blatant racism and turned down the opportunities.
Younger generations, though, desperately want this nation’s shameful history of racism to end. This, I believe, is one reason why they have become so enamored of Obama, an exceptionally talented and intelligent person who also would not have been a serious contender for the presidency in 2008 if he was white because he has a meager record of accomplishment as a public servant.
It’s clear now that Obama will be the next president of the United States. The Reverse Bradley Effect will be one of the reasons.