A conversation with an undecided swing state voter

October 18, 2012
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We have had a number of exchanges here about how anyone could be undecided. We have speculated that most of them were decided but unwilling to tell a pollster their choice. I hope that what follows will shed some light on some undecided voters.

Last night I got my hair cut. The woman in my life gets her hair colored and styled every six weeks or so and while her color is setting her stylist cuts my hair. The undecided voter is the stylist. She is in her 50s. She had her own salon for a couple of decades, got tired of the grind, sold the salon and now rents a chair in another salon. For the last couple of years every six or so weeks we have talked about the state of the nation. She has been directly exposed to the impact of the Obama economy. She has felt the down turn as people have stretched their appointments. She has listened to their complaints about their own fiscal situations. She has said that she regrets voting for Obama. She is willing to admit that he has proved not to be the person for whom she thought she voted. She forcefully states that she does not want for more years like the last four years. So I ASSumed that she was going to vote for someone else. Over the last few months I have jokingly told her that her penance was to get 4 of her friends to vote for Romney. She’s watched all the debates.

Last night she asked if I watched the debate and what I thought about it. So I shared with her my analysis about Romney’s hitting Obama on key issues and Obama making points on issues that are less relevant to undecided voters. I explained why Romney’s reference to fast and furious sets up the coming foreign policy debate and why Libya matters more than pundits think.

Imagine my surprise when she looked at me with deep angst and said that she was undecided and “I don’t love your guy like you do”. I explained that I don’t love Romney but think that he’ll do a much better job than Obama and that if Obama is reelected the next four year will be far worse than the last four.

So here is why Romney is not leading by 10+ across the board. There is a group of low information voters who despite the fact that they see the failures and hate what is going on and don’t like Obama anymore, are unable to take the step of voting for the “other guy”. The conversation made me very very sad. She’s not mindless, but she is unable to get to a decision point. Unable to see that her own values and views should shape her choice. She just “doesn’t like Romney”. Rationality vs emotion.

Politics bends people’s thinking. This woman successfully ran a business in a very competitive situation for 20 or so years. She made hard decisions. She dealt with reality. But when it come to voting that reality fades away and it comes down to emotion. She is deeply dissatisfied with Obama and does not want to vote for him again, but she doesn’t like Romney. Or perhaps she still yearns for the chimera of 2008 and simply won’t admit it. She is going to walk into the voting booth on November 6th and vote and she has NO idea who that vote will be for. Total crap shoot.

I can only hope that most of the remaining undecideds are not like this woman.

15 Responses to A conversation with an undecided swing state voter

  1. allie on October 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    What a sad and scary thought that this person can still be undecided. Emotions versus reality. What will it take for reality to sink in? Heaven help us if too many voters think this way.

  2. Arizona CJ on October 18, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    As a guess, the dynamic is similar to voters facing ballot propositions that they are unsure about. Unless sure, some (myself included) default to “no”. In this case, maybe they are hesitant to vote “yes” as that would be a change in government.

    If so, I don’t agree with their reasoning, I’m just trying to fathom it.

    The good news is that in general, if the incumbent hasn’t closed the deal with the voter by election day, the voter is far more likely to vote for the challenger.

  3. WhiteOut on October 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    i see a couple things here:

    1 — people like this just wont go vote. fine with me b/c they’l likely make the wrong choice if they are going in to that booth still undecided.

    2 — you darn sure know the tea party indies will go vote romney, even if begrudgingly. they are an engaged lot, and imo, in their mind, no more obama = the real end game. they will offset whatever base + dead people the lefties can drum up.

    3 — it is up to mitt to close his own deal with folks like your hair cutter. but i also think if you feed her consistent info and some drudge headlines, she and others like her will come over.

    4 — i would spend some time educating someone like this about the importance of the senate vote, and see if they will get out for that one…they might wind up going mitt as a second thought.

    5 — OP: sounds like you need to go get a few more haircuts between now and election day!

  4. Jim,MtnView,Ca,USA on October 18, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    One disturbing thing: she probably doesn’t want to directly contradict the customer (esp knowing that you have a strong opinion) so her “I don’t love your guy” is actually a strong negative.

    • PoliPundit on October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      Yep, not undecided at all! She probably thought she could get UncleFred to change his mind.

      • bobo on October 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm

        I agree, not undecided, just too embarassed to say she’s still voting for Obama.

  5. Gerry Owen on October 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Obama is A LIKEABLE GUY.
    He has that, and only that, remaining.

    Frank Luntz was on the right track when he said he said Romney needed to get Obama angry and agressive, because that will turn off a lot a lot, and I mean a LOT- of voters.

    Romney has surged in the likeability, he has established his bona fides to be president-
    now it is merely a matter of realizing the guy in the job now is an ass, or something approaching that scale.

  6. freesia on October 19, 2012 at 1:14 am

    The thing is, if her main concern is the economy, talking about Libya or Fast & Furious isn’t going to change her mind. Tell her it’s only going to get worse in the next few years if there isn’t a change. Small businesses are suffocating and dying out there, strangled by an avalanche of taxes, fees, regulations while barely being able to keep afloat.

    If she’s going on impressions, and many people, especially women, do … you need to point out that Romney is quite the opposite of the cold-hearted corporate raider that he’s been painted as. Send her some ads or articles like: the women who worked in Romney’s administration in MA who talk about what a humane person he is; the business people of companies he helped who talked about his leadership balanced with his caring and desire to help; the amount of his wealth that he donates to charity; all the people he’s helped for no other reason than to be a good neighbor and friend. So many people who disliked Romney intensely have completely turned around about him when they start to see the real person rather than the caricature.

  7. Jim,MtnView,CA,USA on October 19, 2012 at 5:58 am
  8. RedStateGal on October 19, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Probably a lifetime Democrat and can’t bring herself to vote a Republican into power. Let’s hope she stays home.

  9. IP727 on October 19, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Unfortunately most females are thinking/voting with their “lady parts” instead of their brains.

    • bobo on October 19, 2012 at 10:44 am

      If that was the case Ryan would win in a landslide.

  10. Freddie Sykes on October 19, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I think that many “undecideds” are torn between voting for Romney and not voting at all. The later is preferable as then they will not be voting for any of the bozos down ticket from Obama.

  11. Earl on October 19, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Well flame me if you want but she is a moron. There are many like her. I know an elderly gentleman who is conserative as you can get. You should hear him talk. Yet he continues to vote democrat in every election because he’s voted that way since JFK. He votes against his own positions repeatedly simply because he is ignorant. I agree with those who say they hope this type stays home. I guarantee if they vote, it will be for O.

    • Tim on October 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      Nothing to flame. She is a moron. Now I can’t speak to your friend but I agree with the comment above that women slay me as to how they cast their ballots. Saw some poll yesterday (believe it was on Gallup’s site) where the number one issue for women this election cycle is abortion. Now to be fair I suppose some of those gals oppose abortion. But either way no matter who gets sworn in on January 20, 2013–abortion is going to be legal and the president (or Congress for that matter) is not going to change that. So instead of voting based on issues that the president is going to directly influence they vote on some abstract bull shit.

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