The Full Effect


The ballyhooed Bradley Effect, in which some voters say one thing about black candidates while doing another, didn't hurt Barack Obama after all. But what about other Effects? Which Effects really affected the election?

The Fox Effect. The McCain campaign discovered belatedly that dwelling on Ayers, Wright and Khalidi actually turned off Republican voters, but Fox News Channel never got the memo. FNC's home-stretch rants about "terrorists," especially the unrepentant kind, may have pushed Obama over the top.

The Fey Effect. Voters liked Obama, but they loved Tina Fey, the real winner in the '08 election. With Fey and the “Saturday Night Live” cast providing biting parodies of the GOP ticket, Democrats were free to go easy on their opponents on the stump.

The Facebook Effect. Obama conducted a stealth Internet campaign that McCain never saw coming, clearly didn't understand, and never really countered. He was effectively disconnected from millions of voters.

The Facial Effect. Inexplicably, McCain made outlandish faces during debates and interviews - as if unable to control his true inner self. Photos of the weirdest of McCain's wacky expressions quickly turned up on the Internet, contributing to the Facebook Effect.

The Starbucks Effect. Lured by the prospect of free caffeine at thousands of Starbucks locations, many first-time voters, presumably favoring Obama, flocked to the polls for the free coffee. By 2012, Republican strategists will undoubtedly counter this with a Budweiser Effect.

The Bozo Effect. Perhaps McCain's biggest blunder was to assume that Americans were unwilling to vote for intellect. Each time Sarah Palin mocked the value of a "Harvard education" she reminded voters that Brainiacs still beat Bozos when it comes to running the country.

The Maverick Effect. Those who supported McCain despite The Bozo Effect may have collapsed under the weight of the Maverick Effect. After relentless references on the campaign trail, "maverick" began to sound too much like "loose cannon."

The Letterman Effect. Some say the economic collapse ruined McCain's chances, but history may show that his failure to keep a date with David Letterman was the real turning point. Watching McCain kibitz with Katie Couric in a nearby studio, while Letterman fumed about being stood up, was a sin voters simply couldn't forgive.

The Eden Effect. Voters enjoyed seeing Barack and Michelle bump fists and kiss on the lips. The McCains, meanwhile, gave the impression that they might have opted for separate bedrooms in the White House.

Now that Obama has won, there are new Effects to consider:

The Woodstock Effect. The 1969 Woodstock Festival drew some 450,000 people, but over time that figure has grown to many millions thanks to boasts by wishful thinkers who say they were there. It's possible that a few years from now, one out of three Americans will claim to have been in Chicago's Grant Park on Tuesday night.

The Obama Effect. Long after the Bradley Effect is scratched from the Pundit Playbook, observers will marvel about the Obama Effect. Obama's popular vote, as impressively high as it was, is likely to "grow" by as many as 50,000 votes per day between now and the inauguration in the conveniently fuzzy memories of McCain voters who wish they had made a contribution to a remarkable piece of American history.

© Peter Funt. This column first appeared in The Monterey Herald.

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