Undecideds have come in for a lot of guff in recent weeks, and perhaps understandably: this year’s presidential election might ultimately come down to the mercurial whims of a few thousand people who don’t really pay attention to or care all that much about this stuff. Both campaigns will carpet-bomb key states with lots of ads and messaging in the hopes that some of their stock lines — “Obama wants to destroy Medicare”/”Romney wants to raise your taxes” — manages to somehow penetrate their hermetically sealed “I-don’t-give-a-sh*t” biospheres.
Here’s what that group looks like, according to UCLA’s Lynn Vavreck:
Voters who are undecided initially and those moving to uncertainty after expressing an initial preference look similar: They are less interested in politics than voters who have made up their minds; they know less about politics; they are more likely to be moderates or unaware of their political ideology; and they are less likely to have a party identification. They are not political junkies – for example, 40 percent of undecided voters correctly identify John Boehner as a member of the House of Representatives (out of five possible jobs he might hold) compared with 64 percent of voters who were never uncertain about whom they wanted to vote for.
Vavreck found that that group is moving toward Obama; he now leads with undecideds by four percentage points:
Again, that’s not too big a deal, since we ain’t talking about that many folks here; as Dylan Matthews points out, this is about 0.08 percent of voters, or one in every 1,250. The campaigns have already spent more than $61 million and $51 million since May in Ohio and Florida, respectively, so each individual ballot cast for either candidate by the tiny core of fence-sitters in those states will have cost a ridiculous amount to win. There’s gotta be a better way.