With Three Months to Go, Uncertainty Reigns for Undecided Voters

Yahoo Contributor Network
Poll workers Ruth Lindsey, left, James Lindsey, Bruce Mintz and Shandalier Morgan wait for voters during the primary election Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. Months of bruising primary campaigns seemed to be taking their toll on voter morale on Election Day.  At the polls on Thursday, many voters expressed frustration with negative campaigns and what they viewed as the self-interested actions of politicians.  (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)
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Poll workers Ruth Lindsey, left, James Lindsey, Bruce Mintz and Shandalier Morgan wait for voters during the primary election Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 in Knoxville, Tenn. Months of bruising primary campaigns seemed to be taking their toll on voter morale on Election Day. At the polls on Thursday, many voters expressed frustration with negative campaigns and what they viewed as the self-interested actions of politicians. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Amy Smotherman Burgess)

Lyn Vaccaro admits it: "I'm officially an undecided voter."

That's a big confession for the 50-year-old single mom in Milwaukee, who says she has spent "a significant amount of time as a well-known conservative."

But Vaccaro, who works at a natural foods store, says she now feels that she can't put her support behind either candidate.

"It's been quite a while since I've felt so ambiguous about something so profoundly important," she adds.

In a first-person account for Yahoo News, Vaccaro writes that a few key issues too important to ignore have her split about her choice in the presidential election. President Barack Obama has failed her on jobs and economy. He also simply can't tell the truth, she says.

"We need decent-paying jobs that provide consistent work to run our households. I'm not seeing that in the current administration. I'm not happy," Vaccaro writes. "This isn't to mention the lack of candor regarding Gitmo, Fast and Furious, and Obama's general apathy regarding the real estate crisis and our more-than-failing economy. I desperately feel the need to vote for someone I trust and can count on to be consistent."

But, for her, Romney isn't forthcoming, either.

She writes: "With Election Day nearing, I find too many speeches -- like the one in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday -- that leave me feeling he's frequently changed his conservative stances on some issues, notably health care and Romneycare. It's also unsettling to hear some of his positions regarding abortion. In his early political career, he appears to be pro-choice. Will the real Mitt Romney please reveal himself?"

With three months to go in the election, Vaccaro is one of a handful of undecided voters -- many in swing states -- whom Yahoo News polled about their presidential leanings. Over the next 90 days, they'll revisit their thinking and tell readers whether their decisions have shifted and why. Here's a look at how other undecided Americans are seeing the campaign:

"I'm dreading November," Columbus, Ohio, public school teacher S. Alexander Cooke writes. "Why? Come Election Day, I'll cast my vote either to re-elect President Obama or to replace him with Mitt Romney. Either way I'll end up feeling like I'm the only one of the three of us who's willing to compromise."

Cooke, 34, says he was leaning toward Romney in early June. He writes that he saw the former Massachusetts governor as more committed to deep budget cuts to pay down the nation's debt.

"Yet in the last two weeks," Cooke writes, "I've begun to realize that neither candidate appears willing to do what I see as necessary to effectuate real change: compromise."

He says he should be a shoo-in vote for the Democratic president. But Obama's inability to move beyond name-calling is unfortunate.

"I mean, I'm supposed to vote for a presidential candidate whose biggest offering last week was to try to frighten me with a story of take-from-the-poor-to-feed-the-rich "Romney Hood"? Sorry, I'll need better than that," Cooke laments.

And Romney? "[He] seems as interested in teasing his vice-presidential pick as telling me why I should vote for him even though we disagree on gay marriage, tax rates for the wealthy, and federal education policy."

Obama's too fiscally liberal. Romney's not socially liberal enough. So says Orlando, Fla., voter Stephanie Larochelle, a 32-year-old insurance-sector worker.

"For now, I'm going to defer my decision," Larochelle writes. "It would be nice to see a strong independent contender somewhere in the middle. But at this point in the game, it's unlikely an independent underdog would win the race."

A few months ago, she says she was "almost positive" Obama earned her vote a second time. The country's economic stagnation is the key culprit. His emphasis on jobs, Larochelle says, isn't in areas she thinks will see robust growth.

Romney's economic strategies more mirror her own: "I think now is the time to save money, not spend it, and Romney plans on cutting federal spending and capping non-discretionary spending." However, his social stances (gay marriage and abortion in particular) are tough to swallow.

"Because of that," she says, "I find myself biased against Romney from the start."

In Las Vegas, Michael Taylor is still gunning for Ron Paul. And he writes that he's hopeful Romney will include the erstwhile presidential candidate in some fashion during the Republican National Convention.

For Taylor, the GOP primary ended too soon. "Personally, I was hooked on that soap opera and wish it could have gone on even longer. After such an interesting lineup, the competition seemed to crumble rather quickly." And Romney's hand-picking by the party's poobahs took the fun out of the election. He asks: "Who wants a flip-flopper who is spinning like a weather vane in a tornado?"

On Obama, Taylor writes that he worries about the administration's foreign entanglements. He checks them off like a grocery list: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran. Then there are his concerns of drones over America and an increasingly armed police force.

Plus: "There's no sense the economy has improved," Taylor writes.

So, it's back to Ron Paul for this 60-year-old former commercial artist.

"All along, I had hoped Romney would find a way to reach out to Paul's supporters. I hardly think offering a speaking slot at the convention in Tampa for Rand Paul is adequate."

"I don't know whom I will choose," Virginian Lyn Brooks writes. "But either way, I will probably be holding my nose when I make my selection."

The 44-year-old writer and novelist voted for Obama in 2008. And while change arrived, many changes weren't for the better. She writes that she disagrees with the president's policy of raising taxes on the rich: "The answer lies in increasing private sector employment, particularly in the small-business sector."

His energy policies aren't appealing, either: "Living near Roanoke near the coalfields of Virginia, I have seen firsthand the economic devastation caused by Obama's desire to harm the coal industry. We need to use all of our energy sources -- oil, natural gas, coal, renewable."

Brooks isn't sold on Romney, though. She would've voted for Ron Paul or Tim Pawlenty in a heartbeat.

"If either had," she says, "I would not be an undecided voter and could vote for the Republican this November with no hesitation."

The president's change hasn't come to Michigan if you ask Royal Oak resident Mark Vansetti.

"We have suffered through the brunt of the economic downturn and, therefore, I pay close attention to how each candidate campaigns on the issues that will affect my community economically," the 33-year-old Detroit-area attorney writes.

Unemployment is 8.6 percent in Michigan, a bit higher than the national average, in a state Obama is counting on. For undecided Michiganders like Vansetti, that's not good enough: "Unfortunately, unemployment is significantly higher than Obama promised it would be with his stimulus, and even higher than he promised it would be without the stimulus. Instead, federal government still spent all that stimulus money; seemingly it was for nothing."

He's leaning toward Romney.

"Not because Obama was wrong on the unemployment rate, but because Obama has not uttered a single word to acknowledge that he was wrong," Vansetti writes. "Instead, much of the campaigning I have seen from the Obama camp has been less about what he would do differently in the next four years and more about where Mitt Romney keeps his money. Where Romney keeps his money is of no consequence to me. (It's not in my pocket, I can assure you that)."

Read more undecided voters' perspectives:

Hard Choice Between Obama, Romney in 2012 Election

With 3 Months to Go: Reluctantly Leaning Toward Obama

Obama Needs a Jobs Plan and Romney Needs an Experienced VP

For this Undecided Voter, Social Security and Health Care Top Priority List

Given a Choice Between Romney and Obama, a Third Party Seems Attractive

Mud-Slinging, Negativity Turning Off this Undecided Voter in Iowa

In Romney vs. Obama, Foreign Policy Stances Are Most Important

Undecided Over Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

With 3 Months Left to Decide, President Obama Has My Support -- So Far

A Registered Republican Struggles with Obama vs. Romney

Summer Olympics Feel Good, but Presidential Campaign Feels Bad

Obama, Romney Too Similar to Offer Any Real Choice

Romney Offers Inconsistent Message, Obama Needs a New Catch Phrase

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