Searching for ‘Undecided’ in Ohio
Last week, business took me to two bordering states with drastically different perspectives on the upcoming presidential election. The contrast was stark.
One day I was in Lexington, the second-largest city in Kentucky — a state President Obama nearly lost in the 2012 Democratic primary to “Undecided.” The very next day, I found myself in Columbus, Ohio — ground zero for the Obama-Romney battle.
In Lexington, I was hard-pressed to find any evidence that a national campaign was underway. The only campaign ads on television and the radio were those being placed nationally. The rumor is that, in order to suppress the Romney margin in Kentucky, Democrats are planning a last-minute ad blitz warning about rabid dogs roaming the streets around polling places.
In Columbus, I could not turn on the television or radio without a campaign ad screaming at me to vote. Candidates and their surrogates were seemingly at any event listed in the community calendar of the local newspaper. I stopped to get gas at a small service station south of Columbus and Joe Biden came out and checked my tire pressure.
After viewing the constant barrage of messages in Ohio, it was hard to imagine anyone actually being undecided.
Who is undecided?
In order to help locate the elusive undecided voter, I first contacted John Zogby, senior analyst with JZ Analytics. John Zogby has been running numbers for campaigns for nearly 30 years. He knows his stuff.
Zogby has just released a poll regarding the race in Ohio. According to Zogby’s poll, the 11% of undecided voters in Ohio are generally white independents, under 40, who make less than $75,000 annually. There are more females in the undecided ranks than males.
Many people hate polls. “The only real poll is on Election Day,” they grumble. However, as I found with Zogby’s numbers, polls can be remarkably accurate.
Zogby’s numbers indicate that the largest concentration of undecided voters in Ohio is in Cincinnati. That seemed to be a good place to start my quest. So, for a day, I accompanied Mike Tobin and his Fox News team as they wandered the streets of the Queen City looking for undecided voters.
I watched as they worked the crowd at a downtown job fair. I ate the “World’s Greatest Reuben” while they talked to the lunch crowd at Izzy’s Deli. I strolled around the social center of town as they looked for undecided voters in Fountain Square.
Remarkably, as Zogby’s poll predicted, it was hard to find an undecided voter who was not a young, white, working-class female.
As I listened to those being interviewed discuss what will move them to a final decision, a thought crept into my head.
This campaign is not about me
Like 90% of Americans, I’ve made up my mind. I know who I am voting for on November 6.
The ad time in the Cincinnati media market between now and the election is fully bought. For those of us who are ready to vote, the ads are causing voter fatigue. I have developed carpal tunnel from switching channels at every station break.
A voter in Cincinnati told me yesterday that if he was delayed getting home one more time by his candidate’s motorcade, he was switching his vote.
The ads on television, the chatter on radio, the personal visits by the candidates and their surrogates — they are all aimed at someone else.
As we were walking the streets of Cincinnati looking for undecided voters, Natalie Portman was speaking at a rally at the city’s museum center. Ms. Portman is an Oscar Award-winning actress who has appeared in a whole bunch of movies I’ve never seen. Truthfully, I really don’t know who she is, nor do I understand why she’s any more relevant than other surrogates being sent around Ohio by President Obama.
One of the undecided voters I spoke to yesterday told me she was in “Black Swan.”
Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Lexington is the capital of Kentucky.