Outcome hinges on undecided, experts say

By The Columbia Chronicle

This presidential election has proved to be the most expensive in American history, and both candidates have spent a lot of time and money trying  to persuade undecided voters in key swing states.

Undecided voters are the most important demographic in the 2012 election, according to Claudia Telles of Chicago Votes, an organization that educates 18–35-year-olds on the importance of voting.

Telles noted that some voters who are categorized as undecided may just be uninformed. She said reaching out through social media is the most effective medium to involve voters who haven’t reached a decision.

“The younger generation is our future,” Telles said. “Young, undecided voters need to realize that there is a positive side to democracy and political policy. Our goal is to stop the disenfranchisement people have felt since 2008.”

Of the 206 million people eligible to vote in the 2008 presidential election, only 131 million cast a ballot on Election Day, according to the 2010 census. This caused campaigns to worry about this election’s voter turnout and prompted them to reach out to voters through microtargeting, a marketing technique used to contact individual voters to obtain their specific voter

registration information.

ElectNext.com, a nonpartisan statistical analysis group, compiles unbiased data on presidential and congressional candidates and recommends candidates who best align with the views of users based on a 10-question survey.

Users are matched with candidates on the basis of 100 data points, including ties to special interest groups, campaign finance reports and press releases, a candidate’s financial information, news articles and expert opinion columns.

“Undecided voters’ impact on this election is huge,” said Dave Zega, director of local communities at ElectNext.com. “The remaining undecided voters are critical for each campaign to win over. In all the swing states, these voters can tip the balance.”

In a Nov. 2 report issued by Politico.com, Obama holds a lead in swing states Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire, while Romney is ahead in swing states Virginia, North Carolina and Florida as of press time.

Steve Iverson, an undecided voter in North Carolina, said being an undecided voter isn’t a choice but a product of the United State’s current political situation.

He disagrees with the notion that undecided voters are uninformed, and said he has voted in every election since he was first eligible in 1964. He plans to vote this year as well.

Iverson said his vote in past presidential elections was determined after watching televised debates, but he was not impressed with either candidate’s performance in the 2012 presidential debates.

“[One of] the most important things for anyone to do in democracy is to vote,” Iverson said. “Whether you’re old, young, rich or poor, it gives us power.”