It seems safe to say that almost everyone reading this post has already made up his or her mind on which presidential candidate they’ll vote for in the November election. After all, this is a political blog, and undecided voters, I would think, tend not to read political blogs.
But there’s another angle to all of this that might not occur to the casual observer: Even among those voters who tell pollsters that they prefer one presidential candidate over the other, there are many who are less than firmly committed.
Consider, for example, the latest Associated Press poll. Forty-seven percent say they favor Barack Obama while 44 percent prefer Mitt Romney (a difference that’s within the poll’s margin of error and is therefore statistically insignificant). That suggests that only nine percent of voters are undecided. But that’s misleading.
As we see HERE, the totals include voters whose support for a particular candidate is soft. Some of them are only leaning toward their candidate. Some admit that they could persuaded to go the other way. In all, they amount to 27 percent of those polled.
Party politics and wedge issues have dubious weight with this group. The poll found more independents fall into this category than partisans. The partisans who are persuadable are more likely to be in the ideological middle than either liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans. Seventeen percent of persuadables say they consider themselves supporters of the tea party.
The poll also found that demographically, they are more likely to be members of Generation X (between the ages of 30 and 49) than other registered voters. Many, 71 percent, have not graduated college. They are a bit more likely to have lower incomes than all registered voters. Fifty-two percent of persuadables have incomes below $50,000, compared with 44 percent of all voters.
On other characteristics – gender, religious preference and race – they’re split similarly to other registered voters.