Undecided voters still taking time to mull over campaign, candidates
BY CONNIE CASS & JENNIFER AGIESTA Associated Press
Saturday, October 27, 2012
10/27/12 at 7:45 AM
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WASHINGTON - Who are these people who still can't make up their minds? They're undecided voters like Kelly Cox, who spends his days repairing the big rigs that haul central California's walnuts, grapes, milk and more across America.
He doesn't put much faith in either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. But he figures he's got plenty of time - a little more than a week - to settle on one of them before Nov. 6. And he definitely does plan to vote.
About 5 percent of Americans with solid plans to vote have yet to pick their presidential candidate, according to a new AP-GfK poll. When you add in those who lean only tentatively toward their choice or won't declare a favorite, about 16 percent of likely voters look ripe for persuasion. That's about the same as a month ago.
In a super-tight race, undecided voters have taken on almost mythic stature. But the undecided also endure Twitter sniping and late-night TV ribbing. As David Letterman put it: "You're idiots! Make up your mind!"
Here's a look at who they are and what they're waiting for:
Not blank slates: Two-thirds of persuadable voters have an established party preference, the AP-GfK poll shows. They're roughly divided between those who call themselves Democrats or lean that way and those who are Republicans or lean to that side.
So why not just plan to vote with their party?
"They are really a little bit torn," said Lynn Vavreck, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. "They may have some issue positions that are counter to their party, or they're not sure how they stand on some things."
Many are independents: About 30 percent of persuadable voters say they're political independents. That's three times the presence of independents - just 8 percent - among likely voters who have decided who they'll vote for, according to the AP-GfK poll.
In an increasingly polarized America, they stand out. Robert Dohrenburg, a small business owner in McAllen, Texas, voted for Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush but not George W.
Of two minds: Persuadable voters are more likely to trust Romney to do a better job handling the economy and the federal budget deficit, the AP-GfK poll shows. And they're about as comfortable with Romney as they are with Obama on foreign policy.
They are more likely to say Obama has a clear vision for the future, however. They also give Obama a broad advantage on making the right decision on women's issues.
Could decide the election: "That small group of people can make a difference if the vast majority of them swing in one direction," said Rutgers University political science Professor Richard Lau, who studies how voters decide.
But that would be unusual. Late deciders tend to be divided, not vote as a block - unless they are swept up in a bigger wave, Lau said.
Original Print Headline: Undecided voters take time to mull decision
Kelly Cox, co-owner of Shehan's Transport Refrigeration in Delhi, Calif., is an undecided voter. Cox, who spends his days repairing the big rigs that haul central California's walnuts, grapes, milk and much more across America, doesn't put much faith in either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. GARY KAZANJIAN / Associated Press