Undecided voters – the most important tiny group in the country

Lynn professor says the 2012 debates will help sway the undecided

Published Aug. 21, 2012

A recent Washington Post analysis shows the 2012 presidential election will be decided by 916,643 “undecided voters” in six swing states (most importantly Florida as it relates to the recent issue of Medicare).

John Pickering, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.According to John Pickering, a professor of history in Lynn University’s College of Liberal Education, the vice presidential and three presidential debates (including the final Oct. 22 debate hosted on Lynn’s campus) will be pivotal moments in this year’s political cycle. 

“It is quite likely that the reaction to the 2012 debates, especially among the undecided, will be the critical factor in the election of the next president of the United States,” said Pickering.

According to a recent survey by USA TODAY, the reasons people are undecided continue to be consistent, as in previous election years.

Voters are undecided because they:

  • are too busy.
  • are not excited.
  • think their vote doesn’t matter. 
  • think nothing gets done anyway.

The magnitude of negative political advertising is much greater in this cycle which may suppress the vote. The money already spent by both parties and super pacts has exceeded the entire spending of the 2008 presidential election, and the conventions have yet to be held. This may make undecided voters less likely to vote - which makes each one of their votes that much more valuable.

However, there is hope that as the election progresses, the content of the campaign, including the clear differences between the candidates, will reduce the number of undecided voters. While many undecided are in the independent category, these voters have become more involved and educated.

More on Pickering: 

Pickering has been teaching history and political science courses at Lynn for more than 30 years. In addition, he serves on Lynn’s 2020 strategic planning committee that is determined to make Lynn the most international, individualized and innovative small university in the nation.

In this role, he can speak to the media regarding undecided voters and issues surrounding the 2012 presidential election, the numerous changes Lynn has undergone in the past 30 years and Lynn’s strategic plan.