Undecided? Election 2012 is Up To You

The numbers say that every vote will count—and the race will be determined by a handful of voters.

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Damon Winter / Redux / The New York Times

A lectern set up for President Barack Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the McIntosh family farm to speak about the drought in Missouri Valley, Iowa, Aug. 13, 2012.

Counterfactuals — the fancy term for historical What Ifs? — can be great fun. What if Harry Truman had been a successful haberdasher? What if Richard Nixon had been hired by an Eastern law firm? What if Ronald Reagan had gotten the job he wanted at Montgomery Ward back in Illinois, rather going into radio, which led him to cover the Cubs’ spring training in southern California, which led to a screen test, and so on? (Reagan always thought the rejection from Montgomery Ward changed his life.)

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The common theme here is the familiar Thomas Carlyle argument that human actions ultimately determine the course of history. (The tension between the Great Man theory and the school that argues for the primacy of geography, weather, and other supra-human factors is perennial, irreconcilable, and diverting.)

Given the latest political science on Campaign 2012, it’s becoming clear that we might well paraphrase Huey Long and declare a new mantra for the next ninety days: Every Man (or Woman) a Great Man (or Woman).

According to a recent analysis by Larry M. Bartels and Lynn Vavreck for the New York Times, the bloc of influential undecideds is small but critical. And that handful tends to be more favorably disposed toward the Democratic Party, which suggests that they are more likely to wind up voting for President Obama than for Mitt Romney.

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This is all speculative, of course, but one thing is clear: the race is most likely to be close to the very end, and these undecideds in key Electoral College states — Ohio and Virginia are essential — will make all the difference in the final count.

Which means that we are in a situation very much like 2000, where every vote will count—and any voter who stays home will have to ask the following question on the morning after: What if?

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17 comments
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Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

What does Romney stand for? Romney has been consistent in his willingness to do, say or believe anything in order to get elected. As an example, Romney has been lying again and again when he says that President Obama has been ending the welfare work requirement. Multiple independent fact-checkers have said that this is FALSE. Then Romney doubles-down on this race baiting strategy, by suggesting that welfare recipients make up the President's political base.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Romney has been playing to the nativist (those who are afraid of the world) base of the Tea Party.

Papa Foote
Papa Foote

From THIS ARTICLE,

..."Which means that we are in a situation very much like 2000, where every vote will count—and any voter who stays home will have to ask the following question on the morning after: What if?..."Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/08/...

John Luma
John Luma

Ok, it'll be close. Now the same pundits should do an in-depth analysis on how, with so many millions voting, close elections like this one demonstrate such an even split in political beliefs. Amazing to me that more elections aren't 60-40 or 70-30. Why is our huge population so closely or evenly divided?

Mark Smith
Mark Smith

Because both major parties value winning over adherence to principle.  If the country voted 70-30 on something, the losing party would quickly modify its platform to re-capture at least 50 percent the next time around.

Jardin J
Jardin J

Because they are both the same amount of icky. You would probably get a similar split if you asked the whole nation to choose between the rock and the hard place.

Phyllis P. Cohen
Phyllis P. Cohen

So long as we have the electoral college not every vote counts. I and all my friends could stay home and our candidate would still win [in MASS]. We'll vote because we support Elizabeth Warren but our presidential vote is really not necessary. We need to go to direct election now that we have all the media tools to get the messages out to every little town and village, no need for these long, EXPENSIVE, vitriolic campaigns.

Dustin Goldsen
Dustin Goldsen

Not so fast. Remember, Ronald Reagan carried Massachusetts in both 1980 and 1984 and in 1960 John Kennedy carried both Texas and Louisiana. Best not take anything for granted.

Phyllis P. Cohen
Phyllis P. Cohen

So long as we have the electoral college not everyone's vote will count. As far as the presidential race goes everyone I know in Mass can stay home and our candidate will still win. We won't do it because we need to vote in the senatorial race but it is doable.

Darrel K.Ratliff
Darrel K.Ratliff

I think I'm decided  something drastic would have to happen to get me to change my mind  like Romney deciding  to find a kidney for lifesaving transplant..  that Might change my mind  but that is kind of selfish on my part..  but you get the idea..  how id be tempted to do something i think is wrong for America  and dangerous for the future of this nation. 

DarthWhatever
DarthWhatever

And what if we don't like either candidate?

Darrel K.Ratliff
Darrel K.Ratliff

vote for None of the above.. get your vote to count for a truth that you have not settleing for what is to be picked from.

sandiegoson
sandiegoson

"Undecided"? Please. There's no such things as undecided voters. That would imply that some of us actually cast our vote based upon an objective fact-based examination of the candidates. Nonsense.

Donnawfh
Donnawfh

Brandon answered I am taken by surprise that some one can earn $6469 in four weeks on the network. did you look at this(Click on menu Home)

msteel271
msteel271

Your last two paragraphs contradict each other. Does every vote count or do only the undecided votes in a handful of states count?

You don't actually have to answer that.  As Brian Williams said on the Daily Show a few days ago -- it's gotten to the point where it's not even a few states, it's a few *counties* that will essentially decide the election.

I live in Washington D.C.  No matter how I vote, Obama will win the District by 70%, and our whopping three electoral votes will go to him.  (And yet because of my proximity to Virginia I still have to watch the political ad onslaught whenever I turn on the TV.)  I'm seriously considering staying home.