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(English is not my native language, please bear with me.)

The discrepency between the polling/exit polling and the actual outcome in the Virginia governor election has been attributed to the 'shy Tory effect' by some pundits. According to this theory, some supporters of Ken Cuccinelli were ashamed (or shy) to state their position because Cuccinelli is seen as extreme by some people. The theory has empirical support from the UK in the 90's when the conservative party (the Tories) generally outperformed the polls and a report concluded that a part of the explanation was Conservative supporters refusing to disclose their voting intentions.

I believe the shy Tory effect is real, but I don't think shame or shyness play any major parts.

Working as a journalist in Sweden for close to 15 years and in the US for a short period (during the darkest years of George W Bush), I have on many occasions had reason to approach strangers in a way that is probably quite similar to how an exit poller would approach them.

My conclusion is that distrust (of fellow human beings, of elites etc), misanthropy and a "what's-in-it-for-me-attitude" probably go a long way to explain the shy tory effect, whereas shame and shyness are less important or not important at all.

And I believe that distrust (fear is thy name) and misanthropy are more prevalent on the conservative side of the political spectrum, that's why right-wingers tend to support stand your ground-legislation and are suspicious of gun control, government or any other 'collective' solution to a shared problem. A person with a high level of social distrust doesn't feel that we are in this together, people are on their own.

A person with a high level of distrust is more likely to turn away an exit poller (or a journalist) because he doesn't see what he has to gain (what's in it for me?) and he may also perceive that there is some kind of risk involved. If the exit poller or the journalist is seen as a part of an establishment the distrust can be aggravated.

I have no sociological research to back this up, but as a journalist this is my take on the shy Tory effect. I sense that there may be a higher level of social distrust among 'conservatives' in the US than among conservatives in other western countries (indicated by the lack of collective and universal healthcare, lack of gun control, anti-government-vitriol etc.) and that the shy Tory effect could be stronger in the US than in some other countries but that's not really for me to say.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Research is needed to validate your theory (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, jennyp, Wee Mama, TLS66

    I dont disagree with you however.

    Did the Bradely effect ever get scholarly scrutiny?

  •  Very reasonable premise (7+ / 0-)

    I agree with your premise, but I also think that some of those same people who might  otherwise turn away an exit poller, will instead sometimes give purposefully false information as their own kind of mini personal protest or attempt at monkey wrenching. As with most Swedes I know, your English is better than what I read and hear from most Americans. When I ask Swedes who speak and write English so well how they became so proficient, several have told me its by watching the Simpsons.

    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.... Dylan

    by bywaterbob on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 10:11:44 AM PST

  •  Do Swedes have a "ballot box stuffing" tradition ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cordgrass, LiberalLoner

    Because here in the US, we certainly do.

    And THAT was when we used both paper ballots and poll watchers.

    Today ... we've got infinitely reprogrammable black box electronic voting machines ... leased, not owned by the election districts in the Several States.

    So ... explaining the discrepancy between exit polls and actual tallies isn't all that difficult -- unless one operates on the assumption "good and honorable men would never allow THAT."

  •  Few republicans identify as republicans (4+ / 0-)

    Even republican stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly steadfastly insist they are 'independents'. I have known tons of people like that. They would repeat republican talking points verbatim, while insisting that they are 'independents'.  Also- a lot of republican politics is driven by anger and spite. The voting process is just a way fror these people to vent their anger at the world.  It probably feels cathartic, but they can't be all that proud of it.

  •  Wut? (0+ / 0-)

    "Shy Torys"?  Wut?

    Tory

    A Tory holds a political philosophy (Toryism) based on the traditionalism and conservatism originating with the Cavalier faction during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. This ideology is prominent in the politics of the United Kingdom, and also appears in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada. It also had exponents in parts of the former British Empire, such as the Loyalists of British America who opposed American independence during the American Revolutionary War. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase 'God, King and Country'[citation needed] ("Deo, Regi, Patriae" [1]). Tories generally advocate monarchism, are usually of a High Church Anglican religious heritage,[2][3] and are opposed to the radical liberalism of the Whig faction.
    There is this
    A person with a high level of social distrust doesn't feel that we are in this together, people are on their own
    Democrats in the USA have a high level of trust in their elected representatives and the Gubmint's ability to do good for the greater welfare of the populace.

    This is not Sweden.  This is not the UK hundreds of years ago.

    BTW, we won our independence rebelling against Torys, shy or not.  

    Get a clue.

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 10:36:48 AM PST

  •  There's a lot of "What the hell's it to you?" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, craiger, Swedish liberal

    out there, especially amongst the people who believe that large impersonal powerful institutions do not have their best interests at heart. I can't say they're wrong about that, although IMO most of them direct their hostility toward the one institution that might help them (government) & away from the many who are in fact attempting to prey upon them.

    There's a lot of Americans who act as if anything they say can & will be held against them. Considering what we now know about domestic spying & the readiness of corporations to file suit against people who stand in the way of their making every cent they can, I can't much blame them.

    There's another thing too, you might call it the small-town effect: People will go out of their way to protect their privacy in a small community where "everyone knows everyone else" because anything that's revealed soon becomes common knowledge. Small town people are generally friendly & open to strangers--until the stranger starts to pry beyond what they're willing to have known.

    IMO it would be interesting to go over the exit polling results vs actual vote totals on as small a scale as possible to investigate this. If there is a "small-town effect" one would expect an inverse relationship between exit-poll discrepancies and community size.

    The greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing the devil they had a soul to sell.

    by Uncle Cosmo on Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 11:25:19 AM PST

    •  Thankyou! (0+ / 0-)
      There's another thing too, you might call it the small-town effect: People will go out of their way to protect their privacy in a small community where "everyone knows everyone else" because anything that's revealed soon becomes common knowledge. Small town people are generally friendly & open to strangers--until the stranger starts to pry beyond what they're willing to have known.

      IMO it would be interesting to go over the exit polling results vs actual vote totals on as small a scale as possible to investigate this. If there is a "small-town effect" one would expect an inverse relationship between exit-poll discrepancies and community size.

      Very interesting.

      Thanks for your comment, it added a lot of value!

      •  You're quite welcome (0+ / 0-)

        BTW your English is somewhere between eminently serviceable & superb.

        I had some good times running around Sverige in the summer of 2000: Malmo, Lund, Goteborg, Kungalv, & of course Stockholm (at the end of a 21-hr trip that started on a bus from Tromso to Narvik & finished on board a train in a couchette compartment rolling through Gellivare & Lulea).

        I was also in Stockholm the next fall, flying in from Vilnius  early on September 13 on my way home via Keflavik the next day. (Note the date. I spent 2 days in sunny Iceland waiting for US airspace to reopen.)  I asked at the front desk of the hotel (where I stayed in one of those windowless broom-closet-size businessman's specials) if they had internet service. The clerk said yes but it was closed. I said that was a shame, as I had friends in New York I had not heard from. She nearly jumped over the counter & dragged me to the computer room, opened it, turned on a PC & said Take all the time you need as she walked away.

        The next day at noon I was onboard a bus to Arlanda when the driver pulled over to the shoulder of the expressway. We sat there for 3 minutes, like the rest of Europe, in memory of the 9-11 victims, with no sound but the drum of a heavy rain on the roof.

        ------------------

        Before that I had an interesting experience with a Swedish journo in Prague during the 1990 elections. He wrote for a newspaper called Idag out of Lund & was based in East Berlin to cover reunification & had come down to report on the elections; we were staying in the same hotel & met in the breakfast room. He sneaked me into the foreign press center in what was then the Palac Kultury & after the news conference was postponed I showed him around the Vysehrad neighborhood outside & we ended up in Mala Strana having supper at a beer hall. There Andreas (I'm fairly sure that was his name--last name lost but something German-sounding starting with a B or S I believe) blithely informed me that in 5 years a resurgent reunified Germany would be running all of Europe and the USA would be shut out and descending into an impoverished future. And then he asked me what I thought of that.

        I replied, I think you're so full of shit I don't know where to start! Having just traveled through der sogenannte DDR to get to Prague, I laid into him: Do you ever get out of your Berlin bunker or do you just copy down the press releases from the government? Have you seen what a mess that country is? Do you realize that every German I've talked to tells me it will take them at least 10 years to straighten it out & more likely a generation?

        I have this very clear memory of Andreas on the other side of the table, buttering a slice of bread, wearing the classic Swedish tolerant Oh-you-Yanks-you're-such-charming-people-but-you-understand-nothing-of-the-real-world smile...

        ...& when the problems with German reunification began to surface later that year, I thought of him & wondered if he had perhaps revised his estimates of American understanding...

        The greatest trick the GOP ever played was convincing the devil they had a soul to sell.

        by Uncle Cosmo on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 06:29:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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