Road to LA Rugby Sevens: The Tom Bradley Effect


By Washington Osiro

Those flying into LAX – Los Angeles International Airport – for this weekend’s World Rugby Seven Series to be played at Dignity Health Sports Park in the city of Carson may deplane into Thomas Bradley International Terminal so named after Los Angeles’ first and thus far only African American mayor.

Bradley was the 38th Mayor of LA between 1973 and 1993 – a twenty-year-tenure that makes him the longest serving mayor in the city’s history. Before that he was a police officer for the racist Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The LAPD is the police force depicted in the 2001 movie “Training Day” starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Long Beach’s Calvin Broadus aka Snoop Dogg also appears in the movie as a wheelchair-bound police informant.

Why this short piece about the late LA Mayor Tom Bradley? Because the man gave (American) students of sociology and political science the term or phenomenon known as the “Bradley Effect”.

Bradley retired as mayor in 1993 – partly because of the negative publicity surrounding the race-fueled anti-police brutality-inspired riots of 1992. The ‘92 riots were prompted by the acquittal of four (4) white policemen – Laurence Powell, Stacey Koon, Timothy Wind, and Theodore – all caught on video using obvious excessive force in a traffic stop and subsequent arrest of Rodney King – a black motorist.

Back in 1982, the relatively affable and well-known Democrat Bradley threw his hat into the gubernatorial race for the governorship of California against Republican and then-California State Attorney-General (AG) George Deukmejian – an American of Armenian descent**The statewide polls had given Tom Bradley a small but decided advantage over George Deukmejian in the 1982 race for California’s governorship.

It turns out that the polls were dead wrong.

** – Kim Kardashian is of Armenian descent.

The polls/pollsters were wrong because a statistically significant number of white and Hispanic voters in California had exhibited what social scientists refer to as Social Desirability Bias. The phenomenon is defined as “a type of response bias where survey respondents answer survey questions in a manner that will be viewed favorably by others – pollsters and neighbors alike.

In Bradley’s case, (non-black) Californian voters polled BEFORE the ‘82 Elections had told pollsters that they favored the relatively better-known and charismatic former LA policeman and mayor over his challenger, the wooden and staid former State AG Deukmejian as their next governor – to replace then-Gov. Jerry Brown who was not seeking re-election.

However, in a tight race, Republican George Deukmejian pulled off a 1.2% margin of victory besting his Democratic opponent and former LA Mayor Tom Bradley 3,881,014 (49.3%) to 3,787,669 (48.1%) out of 7,876,515 votes cast to become California’s 35th Governor.

If you are attending the Rugby Sevens in LA, remember to turn out to the field to cheer the Kenyan team. Kenya’s first match will be played at 11.35am against South Africa. At 2.30pm, Kenya battles Ireland before the final pool match against Canada at 6.30pm