On being undecided

I promise this will be my last rant about politics for a while.

So I’ve been reading and hearing lots of incredulous remarks about undecided voters. Comments like: ‘I can’t believe that someone could still be undecided’. ‘It’s only two days before the election—you must be crazy to still be undecided’. ‘You don’t know who you’re voting for yet?!’ And so forth. I’m sure you’ve also heard them.

Now I don’t find undecided voters surprising at all. And it’s not just because I expect people to be irrational and the like. Rather, the only thing I find surprising is other people’s surprise about undecided voters. Why shouldn’t one be undecided? And how is the fact that it is only two days before the election at all relevant? If all your views happen to line up neatly with the platform of one of the campaign’s, then presumably you are not undecided. You presumably were quite decidedly decided a year ago already. But if you had a hard time a year ago deciding which of the two candidates violates fewer of your sensibilities, then presumably it is still a close call. And if it still a close call, then any little piece of evidence might sway you. And so you might quite reasonably remain undecided until the last minute, waiting for such additional pieces of evidence. It might even be the case that both candidates score exactly equally well—or badly—with respect to the things you desire in a candidate. Surely, ties are possible. In that case, why on earth should you be decided?

My take on people being surprised by the undecided? They’re merely betraying the unthinking prejudice of those who happen to find it unimaginable that they themselves would be undecided.


PS. Erin wants me to add that the only reason she is allowing me to write this post is because her strong feelings might result in unnecessarily colourful language.

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3 Responses to On being undecided

  1. Mother of the bride says:

    Although I am not undecided, I decided very recently. First, I had to let all the promises/declarations/etc spill forth. Next, I had to let all the changes in promises/declarations etc., surface to the top. And finally, the bitter end is sometimes when the most revealing information may slither out for all the world to see. Plus, it’s good to see how the candidates handle the pressure-cooker tensions right up to the end.

    FYI – NPR (natl pub radio)had a description of the typical undecided voter; older women, religious, low education. I hear from Erin that the typical undecided looks entirely different out East.

    Just one more day…

  2. As if you really care that much anyway. After all I know you will never actually make up your mind (especially since you can’t vote)until whoever has well proven themselves in office. I actually can’t imagine you making up your mind about this. I would say that you would absolutely LOVE what Obama has done to turn somethings upside down, and would definitely defend him to the utmost if you were talking to a right-winger, but not so sure you would actually vote for him. Sigh… but that is what you are good at. Dang, I have just about got myself beheaded for saying that Obama acts more like Jesus than Mccain does, and shouldn’t actions speak louder than beliefs? Guess that is my problem though.

  3. fustianist says:

    Hi Milton! I haven’t seen you around in a while. Welcome back.

    I am a bit mystified by your comments, though. My thought was that it would be hard to decide who to vote for precisely because one cared a lot. Decisions with little or nothing at stake are easy enough to make. After all, who cares if you end up getting it wrong? But if a lot is at stake, it’s much harder to make the decision.

    I have some sympathy for Alan Jacobs’ position that he describes here: http://theamericanscene.com/2008/11/04/how-the-world-goes.

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