Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California, was way ahead in the polls much like Obama, but many whites who had professed to be pro-Bradley in surveys and exit polls, and it seemed he had beaten Republican candidate George Deukmejian, who was white. However, when absentee ballots were counted on election day, Bradley lost by a narrow margin.
But there could be a flip side to the Bradley factor this presidential election which I would term the Nicodemus effect. Bible readers may recall Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who, according to the Gospel of John, showed favour to Jesus whom he visited under the cover of night to listen to his teachings.
It is possible that there are whites who will go to the privacy of the voting booths, discarding their perceived social inhibitions and make their marks not with their heart but with their head – if they believe that Obama’s platform has delivered the better message.