He just passed away in September, but the "Silber Shockers" live on.
I've written before about the amazing election in Massachusetts 1990--how in just 5 days, an establishment Democrat's (Frank Bellotti) 23 point lead in the polls wound up as a 10 point defeat to a first-time campaigner (John Silber) in the actual primary ballots. A 33 point discrepancy. 33 points in 5 days. So what happened?
Obviously, the poll respondents LIED. Deceived. Played possum. Concealed their true intentions. You know you're allowed to do that, right? There's no law that says you have to answer a pollster truthfully?
But why do people lie to pollsters? Well, probably because they feel uncomfortable with telling them their true feelings. This propensity has been identified in the past as "the Bradley/Wilder effect," after 2 accomplished American politicians who lost elections quite handily after leading in the polls near election day. Both of them were black, and went up against white opponents. The Bradley/Wilder effect has been defined as a racial phenomenon, with white people not wanting to appear racist to the pollster by admitting he was planning to vote for the white candidate, and therefore lying. But what explains the Silber effect, where both candidates were white?
The Silber effect can be defined as respondents lying to pollsters because they don't want to admit they hold a politically incorrect view. As the American media and popular culture has moved further and further into the berserk-left fever swamps, the number of normal people finding themselves to be further and further "out of the mainstream." At least out of the abnormal, politically correct media world mainstream.
Hence, more and more people lying to pollsters.
This would explain the tremendous crowds turning out for Mitt Romney (dwarfing those for Obama) and the enormous Republican gains in early voting and absentee ballots, while all the polls show the race within 2-3 points of 50% either way, even in states with strong Republican majorities in their statehouses, like Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin. It would explain the consistent panic and ill-temper of the Obama campaign, while the Romney folks are upbeat and cheerful.
This year, we have a double-whammy. We have a black vs. white candidate, but the black candidate is the incumbent, which in theory should render the Bradley/Wilder effect negligible. But Pres. Obama ran in 2008 as a healer, a practical, common-sense moderate with the vaguest slogan ever heard, only to govern from the furthest left ever seen in the White House. So expect A LOT of erosion of his support from broadly moderate or even liberal voters. But in the privacy of the ballot box, not while talking to pollsters.
This theory is borne out by the following chart, (H/T to Doug Ross!) which shows some 13% of Obama's supporters admitting to abandoning him. Admitting it.
Needless to say, in a static universe, a candidate who receives 54% of the vote and then loses 13% of that is down to 47%...a 1% edge if the other side picks up 0 of those votes. But all the real-world measures show a dramatic baseline Republican improvement since 2008, not a static universe. And it appears that far more than zero of that 13% will in fact ADD to the non-static Republican total.
All of this is why I am confident we are looking at a thumping Romney landslide, with a popular vote of more than 55%. Big electoral states like California, New York and Illinois are of course set for Obama, being more Democratic than they were in 1980, but I don't see how Romney winds up with much less than 380 electoral votes.
A FINAL TIP OF THE CAP BEFORE THE ELECTION: I have to give Mitt Romney maximum props for a concluding line he delivered at the Al Smith Dinner a few weeks back. It proved to me that, whatever "moderation" Romney has exhibited in his political career, he has the temperament and foundational philosophy of a true American conservative:
"In our country, you can oppose someone in politics and make a confident case against their policies without any ill will and that’s how it is for me. There’s more to life than politics."
So rare to hear this said out loud by a high political figure. Beautiful, just beautiful. Godspeed to Gov. Romney, who is in every sense an exemplary gentleman.