Every election year we hear a lot about “undecided voters.” After debates, everyone is talking about how the debate might have influenced the undecided voters. Why are voters undecided? It seems to me that there are only three reasons someone might be undecided:
- They are political novices
- They don’t know the positions of the candidates/parties
- They haven’t developed a taxonomy of values
Anyone who has a developed taxonomy of values knows which issues are the most important, and anyone who is not a political novice knows where each candidate/party falls on those issues because the two parties are at opposite ends of the spectrum on almost all issues: economic, foreign policy, domestic policy, and moral/social.
So why are these people undecided election after election? I think the main reason is #3: they have yet to figure out where they stand on certain issues, or if they have, they have yet to figure out how to rank the issues according to importance. They like the fact that candidate A believes Q, R, and S, and the fact that candidate B believes T, U, and V, but don’t know how to prioritize Q, R, S, T, U, and V to determine which issues matter most when choosing a candidate.
Sadly, I think many Americans vote for presidents based on superficial criteria such as how they look, how well they speak, and whether they “connect” with the man on a human level. Indeed, a few celebrities even acknowledged that they are voting purely on race. Looks, speech, and how well a candidate relates to the public are important factors, but not at the expense of substantive and important ideas. We need to be informed on the issues, where the candidates and parties stand on those issues, and know which issues carry more weight than others. Don’t be an undecided voter!