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October 29th, 2008
11:10 AM ET

Inside the mind of an undecided voter

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

When I am in the operating room, I am a very good decision maker. I make the right decision, and I make it quickly. Place a burr hole here instead of there. Extend the fusion to T1 instead of C7, or use a fenestrated clip instead of a straight one. I am good at those decisions. Ask me to pick out a tie in the morning, and I am seemingly paralyzed until my sleepy wife comes over and yanks one out and hands it to me. It is always the perfect tie and no surprise; she thinks I am a terrible decision maker. She thinks I can be wishy washy.

When it comes to decision making, I am apparently not alone. And, thanks to Sam Wang, a neuroscientist from Princeton, (read study) I may have a pretty good defense. There is no question there are still a lot of people who are undecided when it comes to picking a president, and Sam has a pretty good idea why. He, along with his colleagues think peering into the brain may offer a few clues.

Generally speaking, decision-making can be broken down into two distinctive pieces. The first part is when you gather evidence, and then second part is when you commit. That can be like a switch going off. In the brain of an undecided voter, it may be that “evidence gathering” part that is simply taking longer. It’s not that these undecided are indifferent, according to Wang, but they are more willing to take their time, essentially trading off speed for accuracy. At some point though, they typically hit a tipping point and the decision is activated.

Other undecided voters may have an even more interesting process happening. They have already made up their minds, but they haven’t committed yet. They will tell you they are undecided, even though their brain has gathered the necessary evidence and a decision has been activated. Often times, people around them already know the individual’s decision, before the individual does. When my wife picks out that tie for me, she may already know that tie is my preference, even though I haven’t decided yet. There is a third group as well. This is a group that thinks they have decided, but when it comes to actually voting, they switch their minds at the last second. They thought they were committed emotionally, but the brain had gathered evidence and pointed them in a different direction.

It gets a little confusing.

Wang thinks you can tease out the true intentions of an undecided voter by asking more open-ended questions in polls. So, instead of asking, “Whom would you vote for if the election were held today, Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain?” Instead, you ask, “Who do you think understands your problems better?” or “Are you more concerned about the economy or terrorism?” or even “Which candidate has the better temperament?”

None of these open-ended questions would help me pick out a tie, but they might help you decide on electing a president. Are you still undecided? If so, why do you think you are still uncommitted?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Tim Gibson

    As pointed out, it may not be that people remain not undecided, but rather uncommitted, not trusting their core values as a person.

    For myself, trusting myself, what I feel in my gut to be right has proven to be of benefit in my own personal growth as a person, yet an election reaches well beyond that. Many people just pick out of haste, or for a single reason only, without that mental pro and con list that I personally feel is a useful tool in not only making an informed decision, but being able to tie that bungee cord on your ankles and jumping from the safety of the ledge. Some of us are bungee jumpers, some are not.

    My own decision was not easy, but it was my decision, one I made on gut instinct, on the pros and cons, the real solid issues of the economy and the war, our position in the world not for one of power, but for one of survival at this point. Backed into what I feel is a corner. In a crisis I react, but in picking out what to wear, I give it much thought and attention, but when I make my choice it is a commitment to that choice and the ability to wear it.

    October 29, 2008 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Cathy

    Obama/Biden vs. McCain/Palin, what if things were switched around?.....think about it. Would the country's
    collective point of view be different? Ponder the following:
    What if the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage,
    including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?
    What if John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law
    Review?
    What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating
    class?
    What if McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?
    What if Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe
    disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his
    standards?
    What if Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long
    affair while he was still married?
    What if Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted
    to pain killers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable
    organization?
    What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
    What if Obama had been a member of the Keating Five?
    What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
    What if Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?
    What if Obama was the one who had military experience that included
    discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?
    What if Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?
    What if Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer
    distribution?
    What if the Obamas had adopted a white child?
    You could easily add to this list. If these questions reflected
    reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they
    are?
    This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes
    positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities
    in another when there is a color difference.
    Educational Background:
    Barack Obama:
    Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in
    International Relations.
    Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
    Joseph Biden:
    University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
    Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)
    vs.
    John McCain:
    United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899
    Sarah Palin:
    Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester
    North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study
    University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism
    Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester
    University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism
    Education isn't everything, but this is about the two highest offices in the land as well as our standing in the world. You make the call.

    October 29, 2008 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Harry Milner

    More information on McIan/Obama according to Gov.Track.US:

    Barack Obama has missed 301 (23%) of 1282 votes since January 6, 2005.

    Has sponsored 136 bills since Jan. 4, 2005 of which 122 haven't made it out of committee and two were enacted into law.

    John McCain has missed 733 (18%) of 4099 votes since Feb. 4, 1993.

    Has sponsored 537 bills since Jan. 21, 1993 of which 340 haven't made it out of committe and 31 were enacted into law.

    Which candidate has the most responsible voting record and which candidate has the most experience in terms of bills enacted into law?

    Do the math.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. JoePlumber

    My guess is that these people are not just unable to decide a candidate. I would be willing to bet they are unable to make ANY decisions in daily life too.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. jdona

    I don't think there are that many undecided, I think there are a lot of people who are very soft in their support of either candidate and the final decision will be made literally at the moment they pull the lever. Who they vote for will be made on a purely emotional basis, no reason, no logic, nothing but a "gut feeling". And that is because neither of the candidates are fitting into our idea of the "ideal candidate". There are too many ifs, buts, and what ifs. So everything this week, over the weekend right up until Tuesday will drive them to pick whoever they feel is right, honest, trustworthy enough at that very last minute. And it could be someone totally different than who they are leaning to right now. That's why I don't believe the polls. There are just too many voters who are miserably unhappy with both of these candidates and don't like either one.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Renee Jones

    To Cathy:
    What if John McCain was not born in the USA and had relationships with numerous individuals with terrorist ties and Barrack Obama did not?

    What if John McCain billed his legal services to not 1, but at least 2 organizations that were found guilty of housing fraud while they were paying him and Barrack Obama did not?

    What if Cindy McCain has finally found a reason to be proud of being an American and Michelle Obama always had?

    What if John McCain was spending over 600 million dollars on his campaign while preaching how bad ecomomy is and Barrack Obama was not?

    What is John McCain had the American Flag removed from the tail of his plane and Barrack Obama did not?

    What if John McCain's supporters were already preparing to scream discrimination and Barrack Obama's were not? (Remember, blacks could vote before women could)

    What if John McCain were producing ads to emulate Martin Luther King even though he is not African American and Barrack Obama was not? (And no, Barrack Obama is NOT an African-American)

    What if Barrack Obama had years of experience and John McCain did not?

    Cathy, maybe you should ask a few more questions. . . and perhaps, questions that actually matter.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sorin

    For all those who claim african americans supporting Obama is a form of racism is not true.

    Most black people tend be democratic, and they've always voted democratic regardless of the color of the candidates in the past. The only difference this time around is that its a black candidate who is also well qualified.

    When white americans ran the country for most of its history and the white citizens always voted for those white candidates, it wasn't racist back then. So how do you people think its racist when the black people do the same.

    The difference b/w the blacks in this country and the racially motivated whites is that black people will go out and vote even if the election is made up of 2 white candidates only. Whereas the white people who are swayed by race will most likely sit out an election if there are 2 black candidates only....that is racism.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bamagirl

    I think we have been living in such panic and fear for several years now. We have so much information in front of us that it is hard to be clear about the choices we do make. I feel most of us are going to vote with one eye close and hope that the choice we make, is the right choice. I am really excited but nervous at the same time. Everyone is sitting on the edge at this point and I think we have been holding our breath for way too long. The media plays these games with the public view and it has been up to the individual do thier own research for this election.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. KAY

    Wow! Cathy what amazing points you make. It is sad to see that very few people look at this presidential race with facts in hand. Rather, the choice is based on questions like "who will I feel more comforatble sitting at a bar with or inviting to my house". What are the chances of the next president showing up at your house anyway.
    We will see how this negative bashing and unecessary name calling will pan out.
    We need a president who can solve our domestic and international problems which are enormous by the way.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. neuroperson

    What if Mcain's wife hated America and was a racist?
    What if Mcain actually only voted "present" 90% of the time?
    What if Mcain had only 2 years of office?
    What if Mcain was a socialist and wanted to increase taxes during a depression?
    What if Mcain was the favorite choice of Hamas, Iran, France, Chavez, and Castro?
    What if Mcain spent 600M on his election and rejected public financing?
    What if Mcain voted against reforming oversight of GSE's because he and his buddies Kerry, Dodd, and Clinton, were on the payroll of Fannie and Freddie, which led to the housing crisis, which spiraled into the credit crisis, and now a worldwide recession?
    What if Mcain was a silver-tounged fox who mesmerizes audiances with meaningless speeches about hope and change?
    What if all our international enemies wanted McCain to be preside

    October 29, 2008 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. citizenz

    Obama will not even release his college transcripts, his long form birth certificate or other basic infomation to which voters are certainly entitled. What if if he did? Why does he does not....? I know lots of Harvard grads and quite frankly I have never met one that i would want to govern anything except themselves.

    What's the similarity between Obama and Osama? They both know someone who has bombed the Pentagon.

    Great.....

    October 29, 2008 at 18:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. leetz

    I am still undecided, sort of. I am pretty certain that I am not voting for McCain/Palin, so my decision now comes down to Obama/Biden or a third party.

    Part of the reason I am undecided is because I am one of those terrible decision makers you speak of. I always wait until the last minute to make decisions, no matter how big or small. I'm so noncommittal that I hate to choose one thing over another.

    But I'm also just not sold on Barack Obama. I think he's kind of like a Christmas present that comes in a big box with shiny, glittery wrapping, only to find that a pair of socks rests inside once you open it. The challenges of the next president will be extremely formidable, and I'm worried about his lack of experience (although the fact that he seems to be determined to surround himself with the best possible people is reassuring). There are also a few questions about him that I have not seen answered to a satisfactory degree, and like many independents, I lean conservative when it comes to economic matters but lean liberal on many social matters, so I am concerned that his tax plan will not work.

    I'm not at all thrilled with the options I have this Election Day. McCain/Palin to me is an unelectable ticket, largely due to the frighteningly unqualified and borderline incompetent Palin (seriously Gov. Palin, two weeks out from Election Day and you incorrectly answer a question about what the Vice President's duties are???) and disgraceful, Rove-ian campaign. Obama/Biden is unappealing to me due to the reasons listed above. I've done so much more research on these parties than any other election, to the point where I have election fatigue, and I'm just not satisfied with what I've come up with. So I think that the main reason I'm undecided isn't because I'm a horribly undecisive person, but rather I don't like my options.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Rox

    Picking a tie is a harder decision than picking a winner in this election. Obama/Biden '08

    October 29, 2008 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Daniel

    C'mon Dr. Gupta,
    You know that the medical environment is differentially tested with an alpha of 0.01, as opposed to the social sciences with an alpha of 0.05... there's a difference. Psychology is not a hard science, and is in fact the least grounded to reality... people can change their minds, and there are statistical tendencies that show trending patterns to allude to the fact that nothing can be taken for granted with human decision making, unless unbiased samples with large numbers of people are taken.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Paolo

    You know, if anyone still hasn't got it yet, he/she will never do so.
    These are people who will decided impulsively at the last minute, fear might be a factor and in normal times, it would work to move them either way.
    Not this time though, the reson being that the Republicans have managed to scare the hell out of the American poeple by mismanaging everything since day one till today .. and there are a lot of reasons to fear that in the remaining months they might even manage to get it worse than it is already.
    So, trying to scare the undecided voters either way won't work, they are already scared.
    This means undecied voters will go random, 50 % McCain, 50% Obama.
    Conclusion: we do have a new President.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. susie

    I do think many of the undecided did decide just are not saying.
    Not because of the fear of being called racist but many older folks still believe in the idea of secret ballot for a reason.
    No matter what the polls tell us night after night that will not sway my decision.
    While this blog was interesting, i wonder where those that use to be one party all their lives looked at how a party treated their candidates and decided they just could not stomach some of the party leaders leading the show or how far that party was heading in another direction????
    I do think it is possible to change based on current information.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jim-Miami

    The call is easy. Who best embodies the principles this country was founded on and has created a society of freedom and unprecedented wealth that is the envy of the world? The answer the McCain ticket. Education is nice – and I've got as impressive of educational credentials as OB. But one of my greatest revelations in life has been that education does not guarantee success – or preclude it. And real life experience is vital for anyone in a leadership position – as theory is just that. OB is an articulate theorist with a world view that devoid of realism and lacking in the economic understanding and the wisdom gained from tough decision-making. He lives in a world of academia where wanting an outcome is the same as achieving it. A world were indignation and anger is an adolescent, but rewarded, emotion. Where all power is achieved by controlling the government purse strings, not from any personal success or sacrifice. His policies are naive, a recipe for failure and will fundamentally erode what has made this country great. I can only hope the instincts of the American people override emotionalism and individual self-absorption and Obama is rejected despite the best attempts of the media and the corrupt liberal machine that spawned him.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. D. Kisting

    I am still undecided. Who is the lesser of two evils?

    October 29, 2008 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Leto Barnard

    Cathy, your post would be more appropriate if you also highlighted some of Obama's problems as well. It is better to try and see both sides of the issue first. Neither candidate is perfect, but your post makes it seem as if Obama can do no wrong. That may be misleading to some readers.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rob

    Wow, Cathy. I decided to vote for Obama back in August, but I don't think poorly of McCain. There are some McCain policies I think would work better than some of Obama's proposals, but I ended up agreeing more often with Obama's ideas. Still, when I read those questions, I realized I would think things of Obama and his wife that I don't think of McCain, Palin, Cindy, or anyone else involved in this race. It stings.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Duy Nguyen

    I have met some exceptional leaders who did not have an impressive educational background. I have also met some individuals who came with every graduate degree, yet had no leadership capability.

    Granted, a proper education is your foot in the door. However, would an employer looking at resumes spend much time considering the education of an applicant who had the length of experience that McCain has had?

    It might be more fair to consider Obama's educational background since it's more recent, and also, since he doesn't have significant experience of any kind to point to. If I was writing Obama's resume in applying for a job, I'd also focus on my education, not my experience. In McCain's case, the argument for or against him should rest with his extensive background as a leader, not his qualities as a student sixty years ago.

    Furthermore, McCain's flight history is about as relevant as Obama's history selling cocaine: completely unimportant to this election.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Rh Florida

    It doesn't make any difference. It has to come from the gut because the republicans and democrats think about themselves, their parties. Nothing is there for the American people. Democrats have the distinction of majority but as of today nothing is being done. All I hear is a bunch of adults bickering like kids. Get your stuff together or get out of politics...

    October 29, 2008 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Peg

    Thank you, Cathy. That's extremely insightful and I hope helps a lot of people make their mind up based more on integrity and the issues than false perceptions based on race and what color you have to be to be "patriotic." (p.s., why aren't more people concerned about Sarah Palin's affiliation with the Alaska Independence Party – that wants to split with the U.S.?)

    Thank you too, Dr. Gupta. I always learn a lot and enjoy watching you on television and reading your articles.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 150,000 shop till you drop diva "spread the wealth"

    plain and simple, vote Obama, for a better more prosperous america, or vote Mccain and watch those 10 billion a month jump to 20 billion a month with a another war in iran. victory belongs to the families of our soldiers not to john mccain who continues to say he won't end the war without victory and honor, speaking about "honor" his campaign has been far from that. his VP pick said herself she spread the wealth to the people of alaska, taking form the oil companies and selling that jet, is she a socialist?

    October 29, 2008 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Rich

    Cathy unfortunately, and intentionally, fails to appreciate the disconnect of her comments with the gist of the article. Like many on the left she now wants to apply the charge of racism to those who don't share her skewed view of the world; I suppose we could add the biases of ageism, sexism, liberalism, and any number of other personal biases to those that oppose the McCain. And let me frame the educational point she's trying to make – one highly intelligent candidate without a record of any major public accomplishment and one middle of the pack senator who lies about his class standing only give their lawyer brethren a bad name, if that's possible for our elite American lawyer caste. We of course need more self-centered lawyers running the government. That will do a lot to improve "our standing inthe world."

    October 29, 2008 at 18:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Sonny

    True leaders are not located in the academic world but demonstrate leadership in the "real world" . Common sense and guts trumps all educational skills. There is nothing worse then an educated idiot with a high IQ that thinks they desrve the world on a silver platter just because of a piece of paper. Mr Obama may come from a good educational backroud but if he is elected it will be the first job he will hold for at least 4 years. Life experience does count more then what somone did in school 20 or 30 0r 40 years ago.

    JFK continued to make only lackluster grades–"gentleman's C's," as the expression went. He wrote occasionally for the Harvard Crimson, the campus newspaper, but had little involvement with campus politics, preferring to concentrate on athletics and his social life.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Kris

    I agree with Kathy's very valid observations. I remember a prominent american from a minority community who once said with a lot of frustration in his voice that he has to keep running just to stay where he was. These are prejudices that are perpetuated and will not go away easily.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. John

    Linda,
    That's a lot of typing. You should have just said:
    1. America is racist
    2. If you don't graduate from the Ivy League elite, you're not fit to lead the country.

    I happen to disagree with you on both accounts.
    I would suggest, if you're trying to come across as unbiased, including negative and postive things about both candidates, unless you're so deep into the movement, you can't see any negative side to your candidate. And in that case, hope for you would be lost.
    Cheerio.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Paula Dallas, TX

    Cathy,

    Our politics may differ but thank you for one of the most well-thought, well presented, non-sound-bite-ideology responses I've read in a very long time.

    You give me hope as we move into a new era...I fear we, as a country, have abdicated our thinking to the media, on both sides of the aisle.

    I hope you have children and can teach them to think for themselves, compare, contrast and make their own decisions based on their beliefs, intellect and researched information.

    Well done.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Keith

    Cathy, I can tell you there's at least one person who is less favorable towards Obama because of your post. Your attempt to twist this topic into a pro-Obama propganda position with selective facts offends me as a reader. This article has nothing to do with any of the "facts" you bray about.

    Though to be honest, I still don't have any real negativity towards Obama the man, or Obama the candidate – just his supporters and campaign flacks.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Bruce

    Cathy,

    What if Sarah Palin was a Plain Jane, sexless left liberal that wore "burlap textured" pants suits? I think you'd overlook the education part then. The women of this country should be ashamed of themselves the way they have treated Sarah Palin. The hardest thing about law school is paying the tuition, but I'm sure Obama had help with that also.

    When I look at McCain and Obama it makes me wonder why the Miss America pageant selects a winner from 53 candidates, but we chose our President from only 2 candidates.

    We're screwed no matter who wins!

    October 29, 2008 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. DavidT

    Thank you Cathy for pointing out the truth.
    With G.W. Bush, we elected a similar man. So yeah, he was a Harvard graduate, but spent more time at his frat house getting drunk. A man with a lot of money but limited I.Q.
    Same story with Ronald Reagan. A man with C average grades.
    Only in America where we find idiots who vote for like minded idiots because they fear anyone smarter than themselves. A person they "can have a beer with". A friend rather than a leader. A good old boy.
    This has become the measure of our political leaders. A nation of underacheivers. Bart and Homer Simpsons of America. And we seem to relish in our mediocrity. But trumpet our patriotism. Flag waving "real Americans" as opposed to "fake ones" Maybe that's all we have left. The real cynicism here is these right wing extremists. They only see what they want to see. A narrow view of America. They gladly embrace their racism and hatred. Like a badge of honor. For they believe they are the last real patriot left in these United States. "United" being an oxymoron.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. John

    That was both cute and meaningful. Thanks,

    I already voted. I do remember long ago when I did not worry until the last minute though. I hope the undecideds today take an hour to surf the net, hopefully finding acutal audio-visual so they can judge from the mouths of the candidates themselves. If one is truly undecided, this is at least a several hours process.

    But you will never again see a time when a couple of hours was more important.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Eric Reinholt

    Tim Gibson [As pointed out, it may not be that people remain not undecided, but rather uncommitted, not trusting their core values as a person.]

    I think you're giving people way too much credit. I think there is a large number of people who simply do not care. They will possibly hear reasons for voting one way or the other, but it will not change their job (or so they think) tomorrow, nor do they think it will change their world.

    I was recently surprised to find that several otherwise intelligent people I know, have never voted.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Carolyn

    Cathy,
    Your point is so thought provoking. Thank you for sharing, I am going to share this link with some friends. It breaks my heart that the racism continues in spite of some good progress we have made. I encourage all people to get to know people who are different than you (race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity) and strive to understand where they are coming from. I think this would open many heart and minds. We are all human and have more in common than we do differences. Until then, I will keep praying for an end to hatred in this world.

    Thank you again Cathy, you have opened my eyes to this blatant racism.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Democrat Man

    It's so easy; vote democrat to restore our economy and end the invasion of Iraq. What's to decide?

    October 29, 2008 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Matt

    Thank you Cathy... you just helped make an undecided voter decided. Im going to double check all those claims, but they look solid from the few I checked while scrolling through them. Now to print this and show it to a few buddies. Nice to see some clear cut info even if its late in the game.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. jwr53

    I guess I am wondering whether the undecideds are undecided on MacCain or Obama, or whether they're undecided on voting for a third-party candidate, or undecided about voting the top of the ballot at all?

    October 29, 2008 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Hema Abeysinghe

    Yes, education isn't everything. But it shows your commitment to better yourself, learn about the things you don’t know yet (you have to know you don’t know everything) and definitely the core intelligence. That is why college graduates consistently perform better at work places. Let's say you are a business owner planning to hire someone to be CEO of your company. Who would you choose?

    October 29, 2008 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. bernie

    Thanks Cathy – sometimes I'm mad at Obama for not saying some of these things, but in retrospect, he's shown himself to be a true leader by being termperate. He knows he will have to work with all parties and has won people over with his demeanor. That includes me. I've lost respect for J. McCain and I never had any for his running mate.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Carlos

    Cathy, according to you, anyone who graduates with top grades from Harvard should become the CEO of Exxon, huh? When you interview for a job (assuming you have ever worked), are you not asked WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? So to add to your questions:
    What if McCain believed in "...to each according to his needs..."?
    What if McCain believed in buying votes (read "earmarks") at the rate of $1 million a day?
    What if Palin believed that Obama was an exceptional Senator with whom she would have "...been proud to serve..." and who was a very good personal friend but now she had to drag through the gutter?
    The decision is not as easy as you find it. If Obama wins, you may yet live to regret it.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Vince Gomez

    I don't believe that either Obama or McCain can change the tide of the bad U.S. economy. Who is to blame for the U.S. economic system is both the democrats and republicans and the american system in how people are divided by class in this country.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Don

    There is at least one other type of decision maker. It is the person whose mind was formed long ago and will not change regardless of the evidence presented. They are the dogmatists who see the world not as it is but as they want it to be. They do not tolerate subtlety, shun complexity and they are never undecided. They are great at placing blame and slow to accept responsibility. They are, unfortunately, found in great numbers during elections, on both sides.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. SP

    I take issue with the question "Are you more concerned about the economy or terrorism?" Somehow the media has spun Obama as better on the economy but look closely at the plans...

    McCain wants to lower corporate taxes from the current amount that has our companies paying the 2nd highest tax rates in the world to something more reasonable and competitive on the global stage. McCain wants to keep taxes low on small businesses. McCain wants to cut government spending to put an end to our out of control deficit.

    Obama wants to raise taxes on our companies, hampering their growth and ability to compete globally. He plans will raise taxes on small businesses, costing the economy jobs just as unemployment is climbing. He wants to dramatically increase government spending (currently his incremental spending is estimated at ~$1 trillion), and yet has not cited how exactly he plans to pay for it.

    I think McCain IS the economy leader, and obviously he is also the leader when it comes to national security.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Another Cathy

    Cathy
    Excellent point- "This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

    Think about it people

    October 29, 2008 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Amber

    I don't believe that someone's education is as important as their life experiences. My father is an engineer. He is actually the head of engineering for his company. He has never been to college. He is an expert in his field and there is not one engineer out of college who can compare to the depth of his knowledge in his profession. I believe if anywhere this is true is in politics. I need a leader who knows what he is up against.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. DENG , texas

    Since days of election shortened and many american have not made their minds yet, this election would remain unpredictable till november 4th 2008. and please don't count john mcain out yet , there are possiblities for him to come out swinging at the last minute.

    when it come to making decision as Dr Gupta explained, people who don't participate in surveys could tilt scale to unknown direction. for example, i had been mcain's suporter whole year round but last week i switched to barack when mcain severely criticized Barack that he is socialist. and wealth spreader.... mcain and his runningmate appeared to me desperate and frustrated mean people who were looking for anything to throw at the other candidate.

    second reason i changed my support for republican nominee was that they allowed people to used hate comments in their rallies for too long. when i saw mcain supporters chanting bitter words like terorism, arab, kill him, i am mad extremely mad, questioning Barack citizenship many more turned me off. those nasty phrases would translate into action. the infuriated multititudes would view Barack obama like a terorist not their fellow brother who first reject Iraq war.
    eventhough john mcain came out against bitter words at last , i personally still hold him acountable because was the first person who told crowds not to trust Barack obama.

    I voted for Barack obama

    October 29, 2008 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Matt

    Hmmmm...lengthy dissertation there on education. So...using this logic as a guide we can assume that guys like Benjamin Franklin (just one glaring example of incomplete/failed college education) should have been left out of politics?

    And, please, can the racists stop trying to use the race card! It will be much easier to support Obama if his supporters will stop being so offensive to everyone.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Major Tom

    Cathy for President.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Schmoey

    I'm voting on the information I feel know and feel good about, not becuase "we hate Bush". California screwed that up.

    Obama did well at an Ivy leagued institution, so did Dubya and Bill Clinton. The latter pushed our economy into a grave hole. i also know California drove itself into bankruptcy with a "share the wealth" after a big tent reaction was voted in that got recalled, and the economy and the UHC in Hawaii failed after 7 years.

    Palin had a clean budget in Alaska. McCain was a senator of Arizona for 22 years. Biden has a long senate run.

    I'm also looking for applied knowledge in experience. Who taxed or removed taxes, how was the state budget in their realm... Again, Palin, McCain and Biden have evidence. Obama hired Furman for his Senior economic advisor and I'm not sold on his campaign. Especially since the forerunner is lacking in experience.

    But that's just me. Most people seem to be voting on emotion.

    October 29, 2008 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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