Associated Press-GfK Poll: One Quarter of Voters Remain Uncommitted
A new AP/GfK poll finds the 2012 Presidential race is more up in the air than ever — but a Pew Research Poll suggests Romney could benefit from higher GOP engagement.
They shrug at President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. They’re in no hurry to decide which one to support in the White House race. And they’ll have a big say in determining who wins the White House.
One-quarter of U.S. voters are persuadable, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll, and both Obama and Romney will spend the next four months trying to convince these fickle, hard-to-reach individuals that only he has what it takes to fix an ailing nation.
It’s a delicate task. These voters also hate pandering.
Hate pandering? Then what can both political parties DO?
This suggests that — more than ever — the kinds of political mantras repeated by partisans on each side are likely going to face a tough audience when it comes to independent voters or even some Democrats disappointed with President Barack Obama and Republicans not happy with the Tea Party/talk radio culture direction their party has taken. Independent voters, moderates and undecided voters are not monolithic. But the one constant in the AP story (go to the link and read it all) is the fact that many Americans are getting no longer believing political spin but seeing it for what it is: talking points.
No where is that more evident on the cable shows that set it up with someone on the left and right who vomit forth the talking points of their parties or ideologies, seemingly in a big rush to blurt forth as many charges and cherry picked facts and figures about the opposite party or opponent as they can. Networks love battles of spin regurgitators. Watch closely when you see one, and see how pleased the host often is — and how you’ll often hear after it gets ugly, obnoxiously loud, peppered with rude interruptions, the host will say at the end with a smug look on his or her face “We’ll have to have you back!”
This also suggests that although big bucks may play a role in this campaign, it may not be as much of a “given” that they will work as effectively as many political operatives hope if voters don’t feel a candidate is leveling with them. Another question: will there be a saturation point for negativity?
Clearly, other deciding factors will likely be the acceptance speeches (but swing voters may be wary since these are prepared addresses), the debates (even though candidates are coached voters an pick up things that trigger a voting preference or dislike such as Al Gore walking up to George W. Bush in what proved to be a politically toxic attempt to upstate and/or throw him off balance), and ongoing media narrative as reflected in headlines and top of the hour cable/broadcast soundbites.
Also to factor in: how much publicity comedians get when they start to ridicule a candidate. Which comedy lines start to pick up and reflect a common assumption about a given candidate? The imagery consolidated by comedian’s ridicule can be unhelpful to a candidate who is trying to woo voters not already in their camp.
But the state of the race is excruciatingly close, The Huffington Post notes, and points to a Pew poll showing Republicans are more likely be be out there voting that Democrats. (As I’ve often noted, some Democrats tend to decide to stay home when it looks as if prospects are weak or if they are mad at their party for not getting a certain piece of legislation through. Which is how the Democrats have help Republicans get more Republicans the judiciary and swing the Supreme Court):
Political junkies have been scratching their heads again this week as another batch of national surveys produced results ranging from a 13-percentage point lead for President Barack Obama to a 5-point advantage for his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
When rolled together into the HuffPost Pollster chart, the collective result from all the polls remains roughly where it has been for the past month and for much of the period before the contentious Republican primaries: Obama holds a narrow net advantage in the national polls, just under 1 percentage point.
That’s as much of a nail-biter as we’ve seen in recent years. Look at the graph:
Poll watchers are busily speculating about the cause of all the variation. But for those who care about where the race is headed, the most important results of the week might be those from an in-depth survey from the Pew Research Center, which measured voter interest and engagement in the presidential election.
The Pew Research survey found that voters are less engaged in the presidential campaign now than they were four years ago, just as the hard-fought Democratic primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was drawing to a close. “Voter engagement today generally equals or surpasses levels from the four campaigns prior to 2008,” the report concludes, “indicating that 2012 could be another relatively high turnout election.”
The most consequential finding from the Pew survey, however, might be this: “Republicans hold the edge on several turnout measures, in contrast to 2008 when Democrats had leads — some quite substantial — on nearly every indicator.” Most notably, Republicans are more likely to have given quite a lot of thought to the election (73 percent) than Democrats (66 percent). Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they were paying very close attention to election news (45 percent compared with 37 percent).
The most positive news from the survey for Democrats is that Democrats are more satisfied with their choices than Republicans (68 percent versus 60 percent). Similarly, more voters say they support Obama strongly (30 percent) than support Romney strongly (17 percent).
The Republican edge on interest in the campaign, however, is potentially troubling for Democrats, given the strong though imperfect relationship between engagement and turnout. If that gap persists, it suggests Republicans will enjoy a turnout advantage in November that would improve Romney’s standing.
Which means one of the candidates has to really turn on or turn off swing voters to win the election.