How are there any undecided voters left?

By now, everyone had seen what type of President Trump is - his policies, his demeanor, his international relations, his staffing choices, his handling of covid, his position on police reform, etc. And we all should have a good idea of how Biden would govern from the Obama years. I mean, Biden won’t be a carbon copy, but he will be a lot more similar than different.

So I don’t see how there can be anyone out there who doesn’t already see a marked contrast, and know if they approve of Trump or not.

So who are the undecided voters, the noncommited voters for the hall worth Trump? What is left to decide?

Whether or not to actually go out and vote?

For a lot of people, who the president is just doesn’t have any salience. They just don’t see it having any impact on their day-to-day lives. You (and I) might disagree, but a lot of people just don’t see the relevance.

Related to that, people only have so much cognitive bandwidth. For a lot of people, that cognitive bandwidth is pretty much filled with day-to-day concerns, like making the rent, taking care of kids and elderly relatives, and so on and so forth. They just don’t have the cognitive bandwidth to spare to think about presidential politics.

And then there are people who think that all politicians are by definition corrupt, and their supposed policy differences don’t make any difference whatsoever.

You may think the presidential election is important. I may think that. But for a lot of people, it just isn’t.

I could see a theoretical few people, for whom all the negative things they hate about Trump, balancing out their hatred of Democratic financial policy for example and they’re still not sure which they hate more. However they don’t want to not vote or vote 3rd party because then their vote is “wasted”. I assume these are a very small group of people, the main undecideds being between T/B and No vote/3rd Party.

Back in March, I was ready to vote Democrat, but my candidate pulled out before super Tuesday. Then I thought I will just vote my party, Libertarian, but then the Republican convention got weird and I was almost pulled in by the We Love America thing. I do love America, but…I am now voting Libertarian. I can’t imagine anyone is undecided at this point.

I guess I’m mentally separating apathetic voters and disenchanted voters from undecided voters, because how many of them are going to bother to vote? I suppose there is value in trying to gain ground there, but I just don’t see it.

I mean, I get being disinterested in normal politics. I get not following the ins and outs of the latest agreement between Israel and Bahrain and the UAE, or what’s up with the Postmaster General, or even what’s up with the DOJ and the lawsuit against Trump. But we have protests in the streets, some of the confrontations with police turning violent. We have Covid19 closing businesses and requiring masks and dramatically affecting daily lives. Shouldn’t even the most insulated person be inundated with opinions about what is going on?

Yes I think their are still people on the middle who while not liking Trump cant see anything better in a Harris-Biden administration nor do they like what is going on in democrat controlled cities like Seattle and Portland.

Yes, I wrote that correctly.

Separate from bandwidth and salience is also the question of enfranchisement. There is an argument to be made that voters on the federal level have little to no actual power, between the electoral college, campaign finance, gerrymandering, judicial overrides, the Senate, voter suppression, insider owned vote tallying machines, not to mention the general corruption within the major parties and the increasingly shitty game of “lesser of two increasingly evil evils”. Even if the president is important, they’re not really meaningfully elected by the America people but by a small oligarchy. It’s democracy theater, and all the outrage we channel into elections every four years is more for show than for power.

The longer we give credence to this farce, the deeper we’re digging our grave. America is not a democracy under this structure.

I was in Seattle a few days ago. It was lovely.

In some areas, ongoing protests are a big deal. In other areas, like the city where I live, they’ve been small and peaceful. They just don’t have any salience for a lot people - it’s stuff going on “over there,” not anything that affects them personally.

COVID-19 is a different story. But even there, for a lot of people, it’s entirely unclear what the president has to do with it, or what difference it would make to whether Biden or Trump were the president. You have to have some cognitive bandwidth devoted to the issues to have any sort of firm opinion on who would be a better choice to deal with COVID - and a lot of people just don’t have that bandwidth available, or don’t consider the president to be relevant. Governors, state legislatures, county officials, mayors, city councils, state, county, and municipal public health authorities - these are the people on the sharp end of the public health policy spear. For people paying close attention to government public health policies and responses to COVID, it’s the state and local officials who are probably more salient.

And, insulated people aren’t necessarily inundated with opinions about what is going on. I know people who pay attention to the weather, and maybe sports, and that’s about it as far as “news”. They just don’t see most politics as relevant to them. They may vote, out of tradition or a vague sense of civic duty, but they just don’t pay much attention to the issues or the actors involved.

And, sure, others are inundated with opinions about what is going on. But unless sorting through those opinions is salient to you, and you devote cognitive bandwidth to it, all of those opinions just wind up being cognitive noise. Cities are burning - or that’s an exaggeration and most protests are actually entirely peaceful. The violence is the fault of Black Lives Matter - or negligent Democrat mayors - or out of control police - or white supremacist agitators. Meanwhile, there aren’t any protests in my neighborhood, but I just had to pull a double, but still I don’t know if I’ll make enough this month to cover all of my bills, and Timmy needs braces…Presidential politics just isn’t on the radar.

Good points by lots of folks above. There’s another factor to the undecideds.

Many people are profoundly uncomfortable with the idea of “voting against” one side by voting for the other. They want somebody to vote for, not somebody to vote against. So even if the voter dislikes Trump and all he stands for, if Biden isn’t good enough to vote for, then voting for a 3rd party or no-vote is “better” psycho-emotionally than voting pro-Biden which is really voting against Trump.

Mathematically, a vote for anyone other than Biden is 1-for-1 helpful to Trump. Many people understand that. But math is not what rules the mind; it’s emotion.

Recall all the bumper stickers: “Don’t blame me; I voted for {whoever lost the last election}”.

That blame thing is real, real big.

Another factor somebody mentioned that bears repeating. Every single voter who traditionally / typically votes R but is now between unhappy and appalled by Trump is struggling with the dilemma that he/she dislikes everything they think they know about the Democratic platform. Much of which is probably false, but that’s a different story for a different thread.

So it turns into “How awful do I fear a D president will be versus how awful to I fear Trump will be?” Once again there’s no good choice to be had once you phrase it that way.

In general people love to make decisions when there’s an obvious good choice.

They hate to make decisions that amount to selecting the least-bad choice. Those decisions will be postponed, procrastinated, and if at all possible deferred until outside circumstances make them disappear. That’s how you get somebody undecided at this late date: in their mind they’re facing a least-bad choice and delaying the resolution as long as possible. Hell, if they decide to show up on polling day they may not be able to force themselves to make a decision until they’re in the booth with marker in hand. Eenie meanie minie moe …

The only category of voters I can think of who would be undecided would be:

  1. Conservatives who don’t like Trump, but have a hard time voting liberal;


  1. Bernie voters who are unsure whether to vote for Biden, or let Trump be president for four more years (which would make the progressive left even riper and stronger by 2024, whereas a Biden presidency might stifle the left wing.)

Neither of those categories describes the couple of undecideds I know. They are non-affiliated, usually but don’t always vote, and just don’t pay much attention to national politics. They genuinely (as far as I know) just don’t know or care much about presidential politics.

As hard as it is to believe, there really are people who just don’t see presidential elections as relevant to their daily lives.

So, you prefer Trump?

Well, yes, there are those who voted straight GOP all their lives, but dont care for trump. That is tough, I admit.

No, the progressive left wont be even riper and stronger by 2024, there wont be a progressive left , they will be in camps, or no longer allowed to vote There wont be any functioning democracy left. SCOTUS will be solid Red, and trump and Mitch will be free to trample the Constitution as they see fit. Voter suppression will be rife.

There will be no way the progressive left can come back after 4 more years of trump.

These are the worst voters: they’re extremely low information, low-logic voters who have an extremely exaggerated value of their own single vote and its contribution to the political process.

"Oh dear Lord Jesus, hep me git this here vote right, 'cause if I don’t, the whole dad gum world gonna end.’

On the other hand you have this guy:

Well I don’t know, I think I’m just gonna have to wait and see if Joe Biden earns my vote. I don’t have to vote, you know. I don’t have to give my vote to anyone. It’s my body, my vote. If I want to stay at home on election day, bottle my own piss, and drink it up like IPA, I can do that, cause I have, like, freedom.

How much worse is this that 1968?

I acme across a nice but not very intelligent guy when I worked at the library.
“Plant, I liked your man, but I didn’t think he could win, so I voted for the other one.”

One possible category of undecideds are people who really really consider abortion as murder but are utterly disenchanted with Trump.

I think of Ross Douthat, Times columnist. An evangelical Catholic (I think converted) and lifelong conservative thoroughly disgusted with Trump. But he has not endorsed Biden either. Maybe Libertarian, maybe not voting; he hasn’t said. I read his column, although I mostly disagree but I want to see how an intelligent conservative sees things.

Then there are David Brooks and David Frum, very conservative but also utterly disgusted by Trump. Neither has, AFAIK, endorsed Biden. So yes, I can see even well-informed undecideds.

They were saying the same thing about having Bush have a 2nd term and blamed Ralph Nader taking democrat voters when he won. Guess what? No police state. Also 8 years of Obama.