pIt appears that “undecided” voters this year are primarily a group of people who really dislike both parties and the candidates put forth this election. Tom Jensen at PPP describes the undecideds in the Colorado Senate race:
-They pretty universally dislike both [Michael] Bennet and Ken Buck. 9% like the job the incumbent’s doing while 47% disapprove. 3% have a favorable opinion of the challenger while 39% see him unfavorably.
-They have little regard for the President, giving him a 31% approval rating while 55% disapprove. But they express even less faith in the future of the Republican Party with 12% saying it’s headed in the right direction and 54% saying it’s going the wrong way.
It seems this is a national pattern. The recent NBC/WSJ poll found Americans have extremely low opinions of both major parties right now. A Gallup poll from earlier this year found a similar result. It appears that the Republican Party’s brand remains damaged from the Bush administration, while voters’ opinions about the Democratic Party have dropped sharply. This is probably due, in no small part, to Democrats’ failure to improve the incredibly bad employment situation and how they have squandered a large majority in a totally broken Congress.
If the “undecideds” in most polls are people who seem to strongly disapprove of both major parties, I think it is legitimate to speculate whether they will even bother to vote this November. Democrats are trying to make this election a “choice” between them and Republicans, but voters always have a third option of just staying home. Given how poorly people view the two major parties, staying home might become a more and more appealing choice for some.
As a result, this midterm could be a very low turnout election. If so, it becomes even more important for both parties to focus on getting out their base. This is probably why three months out from the election, OFA is sending emails asking supporters to “commit to vote in the 2010 elections.” Given the level of enthusiasm within the conservative base, the Republican party is probably not going to need to work as hard to get their core voters to the polls.
Update – Tom Jensen at PPP has found basically the same pattern of “undecideds” hating both parties in their national poll as they did in their poll of Colorado.
The undecided voters on the generic ballot tell an interesting story. They voted for Barack Obama by a 46/32 margin. But they now disapprove of him 38/48. And they disapprove of Congressional Republicans even more, 9/65. They dislike Congressional Republicans more than Obama- but will that be as important a factor in how they vote this fall? Hard to say at this point.