The Last 8%
According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 8% of voters remain undecided. And who are these indecisive folks? Pew says:
Undecided voters are less educated, less affluent, and somewhat more likely to be female than the average voter â€¦ undecided voters are also more likely to attend church regularly.
Iâ€™m not sure if that bit of demographics gives us any great hint on which way undecideds will break. But, at this point, if they havenâ€™t gotten comfortable voting for the â€œchangeâ€ candidate, I canâ€™t imagine them jumping in mass to Barack Obamaâ€™s side. My best guess is that Obama could get a 50/50 split but, more likely, John McCain will pick up a higher percentage of stragglers. If you canâ€™t make up your mind, itâ€™s generally easier to go with the â€œknown commodity.â€
Of course, you could also argue that undecideds are fundamentally unhappy with the choices and a significant percentage could end up either not voting or choosing a third party candidate. Unfortunately, there just isnâ€™t any good historical data on the kind of election weâ€™re having this year. The last time an election did not include either an incumbent president or an incumbent vice president was 1952.
The question is whether or not undecideds will even play a role at this point. It all depends on the accuracy of the polls. If Obama is already over 50% in enough key states, it wonâ€™t matter if McCain grabs 100% of the undecideds. But if the race is actually close in a lot of states, then a 75/25 or even a 60/40 split of that last 8% could lift McCain over the top.
However the election plays out, itâ€™ll be interesting to see how the undecideds break.