The Campaign Spot

Are The Undecideds Truly Undecided?

In discussing cell-phone voters a few days ago, I had mentioned that Obama had underperformed final polling, sometimes by significant percentages, in some key states in the Democratic primary – New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas.

Over at The Next Right, Sean Oxendine looks at final polling and final results for all of the caucuses and primaries. Deep down, we know that the question of whether Obama underperforms his polls only matters in a few states — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, maybe Indiana (where Obama overperformed his final polls). In the first three, Obama underperforms, and adding the underperformance factor to the most recent RCP averages, Obama could expect 48 percent in New Hampshire, 45.1 percent in Ohio, and 45.5 percent in Pennsylvania.
No way Obama could do that poorly in that key trio, right?

Now, all of this is speculation. It’s a different race in the general election. But also consider the internals of the most recent SUSA polls. In Ohio it tells us that the undecideds are disproportionately over the age of 65 (currently 54-41 McCain), moderate (slightly pro-Obama), and from the Toledo area (52-42 McCain). Again, we must be careful with this, as there are huge error margins for subsamples. In Virginia they are 50-64 (50-47 Obama) and 65+ (51-43 McCain), and independent (48-44 McCain). In Florida they are actually younger (49-44 Obama) and Hispanic (55-36 McCain), perhaps demonstrating the split in young Cuban voters who are less likely to vote like their heavily Republican parents. In New Mexico 0% of voters younger than Obama are undecided, but 4% of those older than McCain are (53-43 McCain). I won’t bore you with the details, but the other pollster who shows detailed crosstabs – PPP – shows similar results.
In other words, the undecideds are voters who are from demographic groups that are currently breaking toward McCain. And, incidentally, they are the people who are probably the least likely to be truly comfortable with a black President, even if they are convinced that they are not the least bit racist.

I don’t completely agree with that characterization, but it seems safe to say these demographics began the race as the folks least impressed with Obama, and who seem most immune to his appeal.
Are the undecideds truly undecideds? Or do they just not want to have to deal with the supporters of the guy who just encouraged his backers to “get in people’s faces“?