September 23rd, 2012
04:20 PM ET
2 years ago

Undecided voters: Who are they and how much do they matter?

(CNN) - Undecided voters are few, angry, and not particularly focused on the campaign, according to members of a roundtable discussion with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

Republican pollster Whit Ayers said undecided voters–who make up 7% of the electorate, according to a recent Pew poll–are less partisan, less engaged and are only now starting to pay attention to the 2012 race. Ayers added he expects most of them to break for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

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Also on the roundtable were Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, USA Today political correspondent Susan Page, and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Brownstein attributed much of these voters' apathy to their dislike of either candidate, which he said amounted "to an unusual degree." They are disappointed in President Barack Obama and disapprove of his performance, but do not particularly like Mitt Romney as an alternative, he added.

Greenberg, meanwhile, said that many of the undecided voters may not even vote as they focus on other part of their lives. "They're taking care of their kids, they're working," Greenberg said.

The roundtable agreed that the election was likely to hang on the turnout from each of the candidate's voter bases, as the candidates appear to be crafting their strategies to maximize turnout from their respective parties.

Brownstein said the Obama campaign in particular was "Rovian" in how it viewed the electorate, with the president's campaign focused less on persuading swing voters and more on voters who already support the president. Brownstein was referring to former President George W. Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove, who was widely believed to have played a major role in turning out Bush's evangelical base that helped the 43rd president narrowly win reelection in 2004 over Sen. John Kerry.

Page, USA Today political correspondent, said the Democratic National Convention seemed to have increase voter enthusiasm among Democrats, which could be crucial for Obama's reelection.

Brownstein said enthusiasm among the "three key pillars of the Obama coalition"–young voters, minorities, and college-educated white voters, particularly women–was important because of Obama's weakness among blue-collar white voters and seniors. The groups were major contributors to Obama's election in 2008, and Brownstein said their current support for Obama is similar to four years ago.

The roundtable also discussed the upcoming debates, and what Romney in particular needs to do in order to gain an edge against the president, who has seen recent advantages in the polls.

"We're at the start of the fourth quarter and Mitt Romney's behind by a field goal," said Ayers. Ayers believes that during the debates Romney has to give people confidence in his ability to handle the economy.

Greenberg, meanwhile, thinks the debates could give Romney the opportunity to work on his temperament, as his campaign "has kind of led to this impression that they're all over the place and not sure what they're doing."
Brownstein also said the effect on down-ballot races will be stark, as ticket-splitting has reached new lows among voters and Obama will have a major impact on close Senate races.

The roundtable also agreed on one more thing: 2012 is no 2008. This year is a "smaller, meaner kind of race," Page said.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Name

    Idiots. If they are just now tuning in to politics and don't understand what impact 30 years of failed conservative supply side economics is having in their lives, or what further damage 4 more years of it will inflict on them, or how long it takes to turn around economics this bad, then they should vote GOP. They deserve what they get. They are too stupid to deserve liberal leadership.

    September 23, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Larry G

    Only 10% of Americans feel Romney is for the middle-class & the state he ran as Governor, Mass he is down by approx. 20 points! These people know his governing first hand. If he can't run a state or political campaign, how do you think he'd do with the whole country, including 47% he writes off?

    September 23, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. drake mallard

    There was a rich man he was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan/ Rich from birth, raised in prep schools, no early exposure to minorities outside of maids, a powerful daddy to clean up his missteps, and timely exemptions from military service /What a dope this trust fund baby was.Who you know, you never had to earn anything and so forth/He talk smack about 47% not paying taxes and responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it /he said saved business, born-insecure, jock-jawed ! / he lost to a man with unemployment at 8% /Now look at him shiver. Beg for mercy, rich man. it was a man call mitt romney who did too little too late.

    We don't want our country back, we want our country to move FORWARD for better tomorrow

    September 23, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    GOP is dead with 47% if middle class Americans Victim....shhhhhhhh...this I told to my GOP friends to stash money in Cayman island, Swiss Accts, etc., to evade taxes.

    September 23, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Nancy M

    Since Obama took office, folks have gotten mad, and want to take America Back. BACK TO WHAT/BACK TO WHERE is my question? After The 8 Years Of Bush/ Cheney Disaster, Now You Get Mad?

    You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy co. officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq. You didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion on said illegal war. You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 mill. American jobs out of the country.You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current acct deficits. You didn't get mad about the horrible conditions at Walter Reed. You didn't get mad when we let New Orleans drown.You didn't get mad when we gave the 1%, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks. You didn't get mad with the worst 8 yrs of job creation in decades.You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regs from the .Bush Admin. caused people to lose 12 trill dollars in investments, retirement, and home values. You finally got mad when a black man was elected President. Illegal wars, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you. It's all true. Really, you can verify it for yourself. Oh, what did you say? Republicans aren't going to define this campaign by fact checkers? Pitiful.

    September 23, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Those who are INTERESTED in this country, have probably already made up their mind. Those who haven't, simply don't like either candidate, and may not vote at all.

    September 23, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  7. Ancient Texan

    Name- " The Liberal Leadership" has done such a great job of turning the economy around in the last four years? Get real!

    September 23, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  8. June

    I am an undecided voter and I'm not uninvolved. I've been paying attention and listening and reading everything and I'm still undecided. This is because I'm a democrat. I voted for Obama and I've never voted republican. I don't like Romney or Ryan; however I don't like the direction Obama has taken this country. so what do I do? I'm going to watch the debates and wait to the last minute to decide. Furthermore I think there are a lot more undecided just like me. As a matter of fact I think most undecideds are democrats who don't want to vote for Obama and can't vote for Romney. Help!

    September 23, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |