Friday, August 10, 2012

Voters Not as "Undecided" These Days


According to Politico, there are fewer "undecided" voters than there used to be, which is fine with me. I always hated those focus groups of undecideds on CNN, people who apparently knew nothing about the candidates, had never read the news, never listened to any speeches or debates, and yet were touted as the "deciders" of every election. To me, an "undecided voter" is a classic oxymoron, and I always thought it was a great insult to the United States that choosing a leader of the free world would come down to the least likely people to know anything much about the candidates.

While I understand the possible idealism behind their indecision, or even the sense of power they might feel for being the focus of the media, elections are real, not hypothetical, and we have years to get ready and pick a candidate before November. In this information age with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and 24-hour news online, there's just no excuse for waiting till the last minute.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a centrist Democrat in office who has morphed into a happy warrior for the president as co-chairman of his campaign, said there aren’t many undecided voters for Obama or Romney to persuade.
“Whether or not some of those who have made up their minds are willing to be persuaded otherwise, I don’t know,” said Strickland said. “There are relatively few people, percentage wise, that are undecided at this point.”
Gallup’s daily tracking poll shows the number of undecided voters hovering between 6 percent and 8 percent — compared with 11 percent at this point in 2008. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put the percentage of undecided voters at 3 percent, down from 12 percent in late July 2008. A Pew survey found 5 percent didn’t know who they’d vote for, half of the number at this point in 2008.

Rachel Maddow did a good show on this topic in which she pointed out that because there are fewer undecided voters, we are further along in the campaigns than in years past. Candidates are more interested in shoring up the base than trying to snag new voters.
Labor day is supposed to be where people start to make up their minds and pay attention to the campaign. And maybe that used to be true. That is no longer true.

In the latest polling on the presidential race, whether or not you like how your favorite candidate is looking in the polling, probably the most telling, the most noble being picture thing about the polls right now is that almost nobody is undecided. There`s only a teeny, teeny, teeny portion of the electorate that has yet to make up its mind between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

And yes, that teeny, teeny, teeny tiny slice of the population will be fought over like the last piece of kibble at community puppy feeding time, but there`s just not much there. There`s just not that many people who are likely to vote in November who do not yet know who they are going to vote for.

So that turns old ideas about campaigning on their head. By and large, here to the election is no longer about persuading people who don`t know how they`re going to vote. The campaigns are still trying to persuade people to their side, but mostly they`re trying to get people who they already know or already on their side to actually prove it, to register to vote, to get out and vote, and to do both of those things in a way that makes sure their vote is counted.

We`re already at that part of the campaign. And it`s not -- it`s true, not just for the candidates themselves, but also for the activist groups and the interest groups and funders who are increasingly now doing what the political parties used to do.

Nobody is waiting until Labor Day. Everybody has hit their stride already. We are in primetime right now.

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