There's a good chance you've already read the appalling thing Richard Cohen wrote today in his Washington Post column. Arguing that Iowa caucus voters and other members of the GOP base are unlikely to warm to Chris Christie in 2016, Cohen looked to New York City in order to explain his point:
Today's GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled -- about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York -- a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?)There are a lot of people on Twitter and elsewhere right now calling on the Post to fire Cohen, for this and other awful things he's written over the years. While I'd love to see him canned and unable to find work, I know that his dismissal by the Post would be followed by days of right-wing self-righteousness about the jackbooted, totalitarian nature of "political correctness," and I know that some part of the Murdoch empire would immediately hire Cohen, at a considerable increase over his current salary, just to piss liberals off. (Recall the big raise Fox gave Juan Williams after NPR let him go.) So I'm not going to join the outrage chorus. What's the point?
Defenders will argue that Cohen didn't say he shares this, um, gastric response to interracial marriages and lesbianism -- he ascribed it to others.
But that reminds me of what I've read about the "Bradley effect" -- the tendency of white voters to tell pollsters that they're voting for a non-white candidate they don't actually support -- and how survey companies have learned to detect it and eliminate it from their results. A blogger here writes about Sasha Issenberg's book on the Obama campaign machine, and notes how Team Obama detected the Bradley effect, a technique I know other pollsters have used:
Issenberg notes that the Obama campaign in 2008 made specific changes to its polling practices and resulting predictive models to avoid what is known as the Bradley Effect, where a voter will tell a pollster s/he will vote for a minority candidate (or is undecided) when in fact the voter ends up voting for the white candidate because of race. The candidate can appear ahead in the polls but still come up short at the polling place.That's what Cohen is doing in today's column -- he's saying "the neighbors" gag when they think about Bill de Blasio and his black ex-lesbian wife. Obviously, that's not what he means.
... Identifying these voters turned out to be remarkably simple. According to Issenberg, the pollsters began to ask, "Do you think your neighbors would be willing to vote for an African-American president?" It turned out that most of the time, behavior attributed to "the neighbors" was really the voter's own, even if they couldn't admit it.
I haven't seen much reaction to Cohen's column on the right, but I must admit that this Lucianne.com commenter is somewhat less than persuasive:
You had me going there, nvr4get911, until the last couple of words.