As Wikipedia explains, the gist of it is that, even though polls are anonymous, a certain number of white voters will tell pollsters they intend to vote for a black candidate, because that's what they think they should say, even though they have no such actual intention.
In more recent years, it appears to have lessened, which is itself a sign of progress.
However, it may have been replaced by what I will call the "Obama effect."
this Gallup poll (graphic at left), which shows whites' and blacks' views on whether or not the criminal justice system is biased against blacks, are widening.
The percentage of blacks believing there's bias hasn't changed for years, while the percentage of whites believing that there is bias has dropped significantly in recent years.
And, when did those "recent years" start?
Well, in 2009.
Hence, the "Obama effect."
Update, Aug. 22: Half of America, fortunately, sees through the Obama effect and sees no new progress on black-white racial equality.
Here's the nut graf:
Overall, 49 percent of Americans say "a lot more" remains to be done to achieve racial equality. Among blacks, the share climbs to 79 percent, compared with 44 percent for whites and 48 percent for Hispanics.Lemme see ... Dear Leader got somewhere around 44 percent of white vote in 2012, didn't he? Yep, 43 percent. That means all the GOPers, from the five men in black who overthrew Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act on down conveniently happen to disagree with the idea, and let the Obama effect flood their minds.
—By political party, about 56 percent of Republicans say the U.S. has made a lot of progress toward racial equality, compared with just 38 percent of Democrats. When asked how much more needs to be done, 35 percent of Republicans say "a lot" compared with 63 percent of Democrats.
—About 7 in 10 blacks say they are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with police (70 percent) or in the courts (68 percent). And the Pew report shows that in 2010, black men were more than six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated. That's up from 1960, when black men were five times more likely to be in a federal or state prison, or local jail.
The first just further underscores the idea of an Obama effect. The second? DWB still happens. And, don't forget Trayvon Martin.
Meanwhile, Hispanics continue to feel, on average, less out of the loop than blacks. Word to the wise there, the hopefully wise including the Texas Democratic Party and Battleground Texas.
That said, why?
Assuming not all Republicans, or conservative independents, are John Roberts, let alone Nino Scalias, why?
As the excellent book "Blind Spot" points out, a lot of people have hidden biases on race (or sex, sexual orientation, or age). Per the book's title, these are unconscious, and are often held by people who proudly present and profess themselves as liberal, including on racial relations.
So, some of the white decline may be blind-spotters who sincerely, and consciously, believe Obama's election "proves something" while unconsciously letting themselves off the hook at the same time.
Others may be more consciously letting themselves off the hook.
And a few may have little unconscious bias, let alone conscious bias, but they just think we are making progress.
That said, this issue applies to far more than widening gaps in viewing our criminal justice system. However, that particular issue is perfectly illustrative of what's at hand.
And, even with allowance for his Trayvon Martin speech, one wonders if Dear Leader himself has been a victim of the Obama effect.