What exactly is the 'Curtain Vote?' Simply stated, it is a vote that is different than a person's stated public position. People can tell pollsters and friends one thing and then vote the other way once they are behind the voting booth curtain. This peculiar phenomena first started to appear in the eighties when black candidates ran for elected office in increasing numbers and racism took its rightful place as one of the ugliest aspects of humanity.
People who ponder these things first made the connection with the California governor's race in 1982. Tom Bradley consistently tracked well in the polls but he lost in a close race. In 1989, Douglas Wilder was ahead by double digits in the Virginia governor's race only to win by less than 7,000 votes. Thus the Bradley/Wilder Effect was born. That sounds mind numbingly boring so it will be referred to here as the Curtain Vote.Many in the media tread lightly when it comes to Curtain Voting, even if it has the potential to decide a close race. Some wont talk about it at all. Their loss. Even a relatively small swing of three percent can be defining, so this voting block definitely qualifies as a possible game changer. The numbers seen in the Democratic primaries were higher than that – much higher in some cases. It is difficult to tell exactly how many people say one thing and vote another, but Obama polled better than the vote tallies in over twenty states this year versus Clinton. What motivates people to pull this switch? Any number of reasons, most of them having to do with not wanting to look like a racist in today's hyper politically correct world. You know, that joyous world where taking a position opposite minority or female cause gets you immediately branded a racist or sexist.
This particular flavor of social insanity is unyielding and hoards of lemmings go right over the cliff when the glare of the cause-motivated light penetrates their shallow and insecure souls. There are undoubtedly many actual racists and sexists who will vote based on their backwards views but they are probably outnumbered by the Curtain Voters. (And if you want to connect the dots and draw the conclusion that Curtain Voters are racists or sexists themselves, even if mildly so, go right ahead. No argument here.) Many normally calm folks will start hyperventilating when you tell them that supporting someone solely based on race or gender is exactly the same thing as being against someone for the same reason. Who would have imagined that the civil and equal rights movements would have on balance produced yet more racists and sexists? The odd thing is, these reverse racists are proof that the movements were successful to a degree – people being equal applies to all things, including being stupid. But this is a topic for another day.
There are millions of white voters who want to vote for a black presidential candidate because they think it will show America is no longer a racist society. They were raised to detest bigotry and genuinely hope for a better world where racism is a thing of the past. At long last they have that cleansing opportunity. There is one big problem though: Obama has some exceedingly liberal views and policy positions highlighted by his speeches and his voting record in elected office. If he were even remotely near the middle on some key issues, this presidential race would be over. Fat Lady singing over. For many in the middle of the political spectrum though, Obama's positions wreak of socialism, big government and classism. Then there's how politically green he is. Obama is not just forest green, he's blinding neon green. For these reasons and many others, people just feel uneasy putting the man in charge of our country.
Now comes an out for the Curtain Voters, one that could decide the election. The selection of Governor Palin gives them an escape from the aforementioned blinding light of political correctness. Instead of 'abandoning' the black candidate, now they can vote for a ticket with a woman on it. See how enlightened we are? Woohoo, guilt be gone!
It might be cynical to think there are millions upon millions of Curtain Voters, but in this race you don't need that many to change the outcome. Three to five percent will seal the deal in such a close contest. Three to five percent is a conservative estimate too, pun intended. While they wont say it out loud, the Democrat Party insiders are increasingly nervous that their guy hasn't closed the deal yet. They know what we know now: if the McCain-Palin ticket is within spitting distance of Obama-Biden, we'll see a huge number of indignant and supposedly shocked media types on November 4th. The day the Curtain Voter cometh.