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. Dave

    A lot of people say they are for Obama but when the curtain closes you will see that what people want others to think about them will change when they think about do they really want Obama as president...answer no! A closed curtain hides the racism that will forever be in the minds/hearts of American's.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jberry


    Interesting argument, though I think that it would be strengthened by comparing apples to apples (presidential candidate to presidential candidate) and oranges to oranges (vp to vp). Also look beyond race, too, and look at age and gender, and the expectations and allowances that often come with them. I'd say expand your scope and questions. Your argument as it stands is very one-sided.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Fred Camfield

    Many people are listed as undecided simply because they are unwilling to tell pollsters whom they intend to vote for. I have always considered pollsters to be nosey, and I do not answer polls. I guess they would call be "undecided" when I actually made my decision a long time back. I do not watch debates, and pay little attention to advertising. My analysis has been along the lines of the Los Angeles Times.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. dickelocker

    Thank you, Dr. Gupta. A scientific rationale for the fact that 3-4% of the voting population are actually, really, truly undecided.

    So many blogs are incredulous that anyone could still be unsure. Actually quite nasty about it, calling them morons, stupid, idiots, etc. The incivility allowed by the "monitoring" process is not my point. I see no reason why anyone should feel required or be expected to decide early. Take your time, and then vote as you are comfortable.

    My difficulty lies with those Americans who don't vote, not the undecided voter. Not voting is a right, but it is the most uncivil choice possible.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Al Ed

    Carty has a great point. Education isn't everything .... hmmm!! Only in America that brains don't matter. We have the worse decision making guys in WH and still many don't want to get the best brains to get us out. It is costly to be indecisive when it comes to where to study and get educated. It is more costly, 1000s of life, when judgment is not prudent. Iraq or Iran, which one to bomb! Hmmmmm, that is like choosing between candies, or lets say, a woman to compete for women's vote; or lets say which College to attend?

    Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!

    October 29, 2008 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Linda Davis

    One week to cast a vote, I'm still confused. I have heard all the negative comments from both parties, however I have not really heard from either party what they are going to do to make change. I want to hear short term and long term idea's. With a week to go, i'm still undecided, please don't tell me I don't trust my core vaules, I do. Why do you think this decision is so hard. It's called casting a vote dor who you believe will do the best for the country not your party.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jim

    I think that there are other factors at work here too. Neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party are the same as they have been historically.

    Some people find change difficult, especially when it conflicts with long held beliefs. Most people "grow" during their lifetimes and their own philosophies change based on the knowledge they gain, the difficulties they face, their age, their situation in life and the experiences of their friends and families.

    While charisma, intelligence, faith, determination, loyalty, patriotism, ethics and open mindedness are important to many in varying degrees, they are not important to all of us to the same degree.

    There are many voters that are single issue voters, i.e., the war, abortion, taxes, health care. These are the least likely to be undecided, while those that have several issues that cross party lines have a much more difficult time.

    Conservatives and liberals have it the easiest. Moderates have a much more difficult time, especially with so much disinformation and character assassination being tossed up in the air.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Adolfo Salazar

    Is it just me but has Mcain's constant disclosures of Obama's connections with PROFESSORS AND EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONALS only make me want to vote for him more.

    October 29, 2008 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Afgan Vet: Reg.Democrat

    I guess if someone was worried he may not win, then what do they do ?

    A Infomercial , like we don’t get enough of them now, should have got the sham wow guy.

    Obama is compelling, but….. what modern day politician with field of dreams isn’t . I still feel actions and deeds are counted more than empty word. Plus still feel he shunned the female vote but excluding Hillary. She has more experience than Biden. And that was based on his wifes decision and dislike for Hillary.

    Finally , why will Obama not show his credentials to run, such as a valid Birth certificate which is under challenge in a US Court, his RePatriotzation papers to be returned as a citezen by natural birth if he was even born here. His answer to the american people knowing this is needed, was lets wait untill after the election. And for those who say its on his web site, that is not the form being requested, The court wants the long form that has more information. If it comes out this was a forgery, then were do we go if he wins, becasue he would not be eligible for the POTUS position.

    Finally his attacks on Palin shows his islamic upbringing, They don;t feel woman should be in power either. I was over there and that is reality..

    I am a registered Democrat and since the house did nothing for 2 of the 8yrs Bush was there to include Obama, I will vote for McCain/Palin

    Plus Obama wouldn;t even go to Iraq, he cut his trip short… I guess the infomercial part on the service men is false.. he didn’t care then.. so why start now.. The proud who served and fought for this freedom can not be fooled.

    1 final thought, that halloween prank that made the news.. what if that was reversed, then some would call that radical and prejudice.. we will get what we deserve if we as a people don't demand more of our representatives, and hold them accountable.. I lived through the 60's and served my nation proudly and with honor. This whole election smells worst than the ignorance or people during what the civil rights movement fought hard for. And Obama even mocked it. I think if Dr. ML King was here today he would straighten out this guy and tell him don;t rekindle hate, we worked to hard to move forward.

    October 29, 2008 at 21:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jimmy

    'Twas the night before elections
    And all through the town
    Tempers were flaring
    Emotions all up and down!

    I, in my bathrobe
    With a cat in my lap
    Had cut off the TV
    Tired of political crap.

    When all of a sudden
    There arose such a noise
    I peered out of my window
    Saw Obama and his boys

    They had come for my wallet
    They wanted my pay
    To give to the others
    Who had not worked a day!

    He snatched up my money
    And quick as a wink
    Jumped back on his bandwagon
    As I gagged from the stink

    He then rallied his henchmen
    Who were pulling his cart
    I could tell they were out
    To tear my country apart!

    "On Fannie, on Freddie,
    On Biden and Ayers!
    On Acorn, On Pelosi"
    He screamed at the pairs!

    They took off for his cause
    And as he flew out of sight
    I heard him laugh at the nation
    Who wouldn't stand up and fight!

    So, I leave you to think
    On this one final note-

    October 29, 2008 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ritamweep

    You won’t wait long, for the obama party to come after your share of the wealth that they don't intend to spread around, read The American Thinker, search, "eliminating 25 million Americans" Oct 23, 2008. THAT, was the socialist, Marxist intent. THIS, is the reeducation, read Bill H.R. 808, The Peace Alliance, they twisted the meaning of our founders words to try to justify reeducation, indoctrination, gun control, money appropriations, ("at LEAST 2%" of the Department of Defense fund,”) creation of civilian monitoring and policing patrols that they will train modeled after our military academy, and much more. This bill is waiting for obama to be elected, as he will appoint all the principal officers. In turn these officers can set any wages for their employees that they want. The minute this Bill is enacted, they will make any “CONFORMING AMENDMENTS” they want and impose those acts on you at once. I love this, the establishment of Peace Day..."All citizens should be encouraged to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace on Peace Day. SUCH DAY SHALL INCLUDE DISCUSSIONS OF THE PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND THE ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE LIVES OF PEACEMAKERS." They will be patting themselves on the back while countries that hate us will be doing every thing they can to destroy us. Those countries won't have to work very hard will they, the obama party socialists and Marxists are doing it for them.

    October 29, 2008 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ritamweep

    Do you realize the race card is being played by one side?
    There is no race issue. Only a socialist and Marxist issue. Obama is socialist or Marxist and a bully, in my view. The best Democrat for the 3 letter word, jobs, is McCain. He is more of a Democrat than Obama is. I don't like either of them, but, the color of their skin has nothing to do with it. You old school Democrats who have integrity, better get your house in order. McCain is the best Democrat for the sake of the country.

    October 29, 2008 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Ted

    Era, Cathy you forgot one:

    What if McCain hung out with so many shady people he wouldn't even pass the background check for entry into the FBI?

    October 30, 2008 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. John Lenarduzzi

    First, thank you to the authors of the two previous comments. I have made up my mind on who to vote for, the decision came early and with commitment. ever since then I have been weighing my decision against the continuous stream of incoming pros and cons and the scale tips farther in favor of my first decision. What I can not understand is why so many have not come to the same conclusions as I have. It is cause for worry.

    October 30, 2008 at 09:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Joanne, Syracuse, NY

    The facts spoke for choice. The decision making process was relatively simple taking into account the vast differences between candidates and their platform. In my circle of acquaintances that would voice their choice, they chose early and then used the facts to back their case.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. matt


    It's not racism. Some people don't want a socialist as president. It's time we reliae that neither party has offered an acceptable candidate.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Ian Carpenter

    I trust my brain. I'm anti-war so I'm voting for Ralph Nader. Both Obama and McCain will stay in Iraq (to maintain the 14 military bases) so the killings, torture and beheading will continue. Then they both want to increase troops in Afghanistan. So more war, more waste. I'd like to see the entire Federal Reserve and IRS overhauled if not eliminated. Also, I'd like more money spent on infra structure. Only Ralph Nader is about this kind of massive improvement. McCain and Obama are corporate sucks. I'm anti-war. I'm voting Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Emily

    I have seen for a lot of people their indecision comes from two angles: 1) They favor a candidate but can't figure out why, so they don't commit. 2) The candidate that makes the most sense to them is the one in the "wrong" party or the one they have some other sort of illogical aversion to (race, age, etc).

    For most undecided voters, each candidate holds equal power when it comes to the issues. For the issues the voter deems the most important, each candidate has exactly the same number of agreements and exactly the same number of disagreements (Well he is Pro-Life which is highly important to me, but the other guy's tax plan is much better and that's just as important). They sit and weigh the issues, but the scales come up balanced and they're not sure what to use to tip the scales.

    In these situations, it is usually the advice of a friend and isn't exactly what the friend says (as we have all heard almost everything at least twice in the last year) but how the friend explains their view that sets off the decision.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mark

    I guess Cathy doesn't work in a big corporation.I have seen people in high ranking jobs with degrees longer than my arm and couldn't make a right decision if their life depended on it.I have also seen people with no degree remain calm under pressure and perform brilliantly,because of having experience in that situation.
    Now,you make the call.

    October 30, 2008 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Brandon Bright

    I think you missed making a crucial point here, Dr. Gupta, and I can understand why (lack of evidence). But since I currently have no credibility to speak of, I'll go ahead and point it out. I know I'll be making some broad generalizations. Please forgive me, but I do believe these ideas hold true for most of the applicable situations.

    The difference between decisions we waver on and decisions we make quickly and well, is confidence, or percieved expertise. You can make medical decisions easily and well because you have made them hundreds, possibly thousands of times, and have seen the results and know what the best course of action for any number of varying circumstances. But picking out a tie; do you see yourself as a fashion expert? I doubt it. And in pursuing your studies throughout your youth, I doubt you were terribly focused on learning what looks particularly sharp on you. So you might lack this confidence. Your wife, who looks at you every day, and is the final say for whether or not you look good (I say final say because I assume she's the one whose opinion you value most) has more expertise in the matter.

    Now, translate this to voting:

    Someone who remains undecided in this final week, or someone who refrains from declaring a political party, doesnt necessarily lack knowledge, as you say. But they lack commitment because they do not see themselves as sufficiently expert to make this decision; It is, after all, not a decision to be made lightly, for the wrong decision could lead the nation in a direction they don't want. Open-ended questions, ones not specifically mentioning the candidacy, work better at gauging political leanings because people are far more likely to have confidence in our knowledge about ourselves and our opinions, which will usually be what guide us in the polls. Committing to naming who we want to lead the nation? That's a far heftier request, in my mind.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Aaron

    In line with the "evidence gathering" claim, it could be that the choices this election are abysmal, and the "commit" part is therefore unable to be performed.

    Like choosing between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. In a situation like that, should a choice even BE made in the first place?

    October 30, 2008 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Allison

    This helps a bit, Dr. Gupta, as everyone around me laughs at my indecision and says something must be wrong with me. They think I am, to quote my husband, "not in tune" with myself because a choice is not clear. For me, though, this election stirs a brutal battle between my head and my heart, and when one side is so wrapped up in feelings, it's hard to simply gather evidence on both sides.

    I drove to vote early this morning but turned around because I simply have not reached the commitment stage, and it's too important to make a panic decision like an undecided restaurant patron. Here's hoping I get there by Tuesday!

    October 30, 2008 at 11:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. jpills

    Thanks for the toughtful decision on Decision Making Process.

    I believe that we are also trained throughout our educational process to not decide on important questions until we either; 1 have absolute assurance; or we have to, like "time is up". I know on any timed test I have taken, half the class seems to scribble answers in at the end, even if guessing. Also, on bigger decisions, don't most of us procrastinate...like marriage, or selection of a job (if we have options), unless we are over the top emotionally, then we hold off and think some more. Thinkers tend to wait, think, and procrastinate more, while "feelers" jump right in.

    Because Obama appears to appeal more to feelers, and emotional rhetoric responders (not exclusively), he would tend to have early deciders, as well as early voters. While McCain seems to address more of the logic, and conservative thinker types (not smarter necessarily, but the slower logic responders, so more of his support may come at the end close to voter Decision Day.

    So, things should definitely tighter up at the end.

    PS> also in polling, I know a lot of deciders, and even undeciders hold off on giving others their preferences before they go in the polls...they consider their vote a very private matter,, like religion. So we will only know for sure on the final Judgment Day ...or Nov 4th in this case, what the Mind of the Voter reveals in action.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Erika

    Cathy: That is so well put! I don't need my gut feelings on this election. Just look at the qualifications and the "quality" of each of the candidates. Were it not for Obama's skin color, the election would be an absolute landslide. His superior "quality" is what I'm banking on....

    October 30, 2008 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Michael

    Cathy, you make good points: if the situation were reversed I would support Obama/Biden. But as you point out, Obama is really out of touch with reality and the situations that everyday americans experience. Just like GWB, Obama has been raised to be POTUS and every opportunity and accomplishment of his has been handed to him without merit. When you spell it out as you have, it is a very simple decision to make.

    October 30, 2008 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Trojan

    While Cathy correctly points out the subtle dangers of racism, her elitist attitude towards the candidates' educational backgrounds is equally as dangerous.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. mark

    First off, I am still undecided. Why? Because of the choices...just about every single one our elected officials are dirtbags who only vote to benefit their lobbyists. Where is the money from? That is all that matters and this has been highlighted by the recent bailout and the lack of oversight.
    Now, I said I was undecided...which presidential contender to vote for? Instead of dirtying my conscience by actually choosing one of them, I instead went with Bob Barr. At least I will be able to sleep at night knowing that I didn't choose one these two corrupt individuals.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. ACinCincy

    What's interesting is that I've had several political pollsters call my home.

    Each and every time, I've told them I'm voting for a 3rd party candidate.

    Each and every time, the reply is "so, should I put you down as Undecided?"

    I say, "No, I have decided – but not for McCain or Obama."

    Don't believe the polls. There aren't that many truly Undecided voters out there.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Mike

    To the above poster. Obamas not Black, hes white. Born and raised by white grandparents and mother...wow your biases really came out...

    October 30, 2008 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Faith

    What if Obama is possibly reponsible for the death(s) from a car he drove before going to Viet Nam and in the Navy that appears a cover up in the

    What if Michelle Obama was heiress to a beer
    company and fortune?

    What if Obama had suspected affair in and around 1990?
    What if the real McCain had indeed switched parties in the 2000s as in an interview reported by a prominent Democrat because he was unhappy being a Reuplican?

    I don't think it is racism. It is plain dirty politics on the part of McCain and the Republican party.

    Good comments Kathy.

    October 30, 2008 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Bill J.

    I believe many Americans simply don't know how to think about political issues, do not have the vocabulary or knowledge to understand a candidates proposals. The result is candidates are not held to any standard of evaluation. Talking to most Americans is like talking to children, inviting the use of over-simplified hot button issues to get their votes. In spite of much money spent on education, Americans remain among the most ignorant and uninformed people in the developed world.

    October 30, 2008 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Jon

    Someone's educational background may seem impressive on paper, in reality does not count for much. Many people who transformed our world have been college drop-outs. Technologists/Inventors/Business.
    Book smart's vs. real world experience (or personal drive) is what really counts. I do not care if someone can memorize a text book and get an "A" on a test. Neither of the candidates in front of us have that. I don’t want a messiah or a maverick to govern my country. I want someone well grounded that will take action and actually get something done. There are real people in this country that need this country to be turned in a better direction. People in this country do not want hand-outs, but want real change and opportunities. I remember back in '92 when I was in college and voted for "real change". I was no better off after 8 years...
    This campaign seems to just be a re-hash of that one. Other than the "history" of electing the first black American(50%)..this election is the same as the last 20 years. Same lies...same accusations. People do not need false beliefs and hopes(Obama) or care about accusations of the other candidates past(McCain). Neither of the men in front of us are truly fit to lead, and sadly there is no viable third party candidate.

    October 30, 2008 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. James Patterson

    Undecided voters are voters who won't vote for a black candidate but are unwilling to admit it to pollsters, and possibly themselves.

    October 30, 2008 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Jodi

    I understand the trouble with deciding things. I'm a nurse who's been recently sidelined by my own traumatic health issues and where I once made life and death decisions on a daily basis, now I have trouble deciding whether to let the dogs out with or without a leash; what to have for dinner; whether to do laundry on a certain day or a little bit spread out through the week. Major decisions, like, which kind of bankruptcy to declare or who to vote for are pretty tough to do, but deciding on them is relatively simple. It's the follow-through of the decision I have trouble with.

    October 30, 2008 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Nicole

    Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps neither (or none of the) candidtates are worthy of leading the country on all of the major issues? Social issues, Economic issues, Environmental issues, Internationals issues, etc., are not all going to be the strengths of any one candidate or party. I am undecided and will likely vote independent because I am voting against the two party system. Haven't we evolved past this, yet? We all essentially agree that we want freedom, education, health, safety, and we want nature and our environment to be preserved. In the two party system, wnen one party makes a mistake, that issue is up for grabs by the other party. How annoying. The party's don't look the way they did 20 years ago. So please stop expecting people to look at this in only one way....I'm undecided because it's an imperfect system and I think we can do better!

    October 30, 2008 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Debbie

    The problem is that I have to choose between two bad ties!

    October 30, 2008 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Paul in Chicago

    To "Cathy" – yeah, I've seen that text on the Internet too. What if things were switched? Then the choice should still depend on the qualifications of the candidates for the job at hand. The choice between the most accredited and awarded electrician in the world and an average plumber is clear – and depends entirely on whether you need an electrician or a plumber. Granted the candidates we're talking about are all politicians, but they're politicians who stand for different sets of principles.

    Yes, there is racism in our culture. There's even more than many people realize – because the position "if you don't vote for Obama, you're a racist," is itself a racist position.

    October 30, 2008 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Emily Rodriguez

    This idea of many undecided voters still gathering evidence, and then there will be a "tipping point" for them in which they will decide is most interesting. I think we all go through such a process when we need to adjust suddenly to a major life change, such as a job loss.
    Not only are we as a country somewhat paralyzed by indecision in our political life, but each family, in all the financial, housing and job losses we have had to deal with this year alone. It is almost overwhelming to try to sort through all this chaos. If we could trust how the candidates will perform on our behalf, we all would be more reassured. But things often have gotten lost in all the wars, special interest groups, legal language, So who can blame people for being undecided? TRUST is a very difficult thing at a time like this.

    October 30, 2008 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Undecided Guy

    -What if you voted with your brain instead of your heart?
    -What if you weren't incredibly biased?
    -What if you were fair and also pointed out all the negative things about the candidate that you prefer (and there are plenty)?
    -What if you weren't judgemental?
    -What if people actually did get jobs only based on their educational background?
    -What if for a few seconds you didn't sound like an angry, bitter, immature human being?
    -What if you kept your partisan opinion to yourself.

    October 30, 2008 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jim Temple

    give me experience over education every time.

    experience teaches you how to apply any knowledge that education has taught you about thinking.

    October 30, 2008 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Margaret

    There are many kinds of prejudice – racism is just one form – and even racism can cut both ways. Minds that decide to vote for a black man _because_ he is black are just as racist as minds that vote aginst a black man _because_ he is black. Neither mind is gathering much evidence for their decision making. Any factor that closes our minds to consideration of the entire scope of an issue or person is a form of prejudice.

    Cindy’s posting appears to be prejudiced toward people with formal education from liberal universities. As far as formal education goes, any reasonable examination of the entire curriculum of a service academy would indicate that a service academy graduate in the bottom 1% of his class probably has a “better” education than any graduate from any other college or university in the country. How much does formal education matter? Historically the best formally educated presidents (with multiple degrees) have been the poorer presidents while some of the least educated of men (Washington, Lincoln, or FDR who dropped out of law school) are considered to be better presidents.

    BTW – although accepted by both liberal universities and a conservative service academy, I choose to attend a state university and stay closer to my family; however, in making the choice I developed an appreciation of what each type of school offered.

    October 30, 2008 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. TC

    Undecided I am not. I was considering McCain at first due to his work with Feingold, his service to the country, his not supporting popular Republican bills. I thought that was a huge example of his ability to reach across the aisle. Since his VP selection and getting to know him from many sources (Fox, CNN, Newsweek, Time, Newspapers, the web, etc.) I have made my choice for the Democrats.

    Do I still tell people that I am undecided? Yup. Reason; I am increasingly frustrated with reasons that people, mostly those factory co-workers I work with, make the decision on who to vote for. For a good portion they follow whatever the NRA dictates and assume all Republicans support the cause and all Democrats oppose it. The NRA does a lot of good and have a good fundemental position, however, they go way out there encouraging fanatics that someone is going to take away ALL of their firearms. Not a true statement? Hang around sometime and listen to my co-workers cheerleading the cause. Another statement of position by one of my co-workers was... " hey look at this, it shows Palin showed up at a rally on a Harley and right next to it is a picture of Obama riding a bike with a helmet on in public!" I rest my case, these people are not worth debating politics with...

    October 30, 2008 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. MPalalay (California)

    Thanks to your article, now I know why my civil engineer project manager boyfriend is very quick and adept at making decisions on multi-million dollar projects, in contrast to the long time it takes for him to decide what kind of drink he wants with his meal! Sometimes it takes him so long that he finishes his meal before a decision is made.

    Come to think of it, he does like to research and gather evidence...but he was remarkably quick in his presidential choice. Thanks, Dr. Gupta!

    October 30, 2008 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Mayor Karleigh Hollis

    I think nobody should even think about the "what if's" and focus on what's really going on and sure it might effect the election if the "what if's" are true but for now the "what if's" are just thoughts in voters' heads.

    October 30, 2008 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. MPalalay (California)

    To Cathy, the commenter before me, "My! You're not undecided, are you?" LOL!

    October 30, 2008 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. jyoti

    what if McCain pastor who married him and baptized his kids said God Damn America!
    what if McCain's wife said "In my adult life for the first time I have been proud of my country"
    what if McCain's VP candidate had said earlier in the Primaries, "i dont think McCain is ready to lead the country
    What if McCain had served on a board with a former terrorist?
    What if McCain had voted "present" 130 times during his Senate tenure.
    What if Mcacin Had relationship with a convicted slum lord os Chicago
    What if McCain had uttered "my muslim faith"
    What id Mcacin's video was being hidden by a newspaper where he was toasting a PLO terrorist?

    Its easy to point fingers and belittle anybody Ms Cathy. Face the facts before making biased comments on blogs!

    October 30, 2008 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. kridoyle

    Cathy, You've got me thinking.

    October 30, 2008 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Linda, Los Angeles

    There is another reason why some people are undecided, if you can call it that: you feel neither candidate or sub-candidate (VP) is the right choice and have no other choice available – except perhaps a write-in.

    So is it indecision when you can't/won't decide or commit to either candidate because you feel neither is the right choice?
    And why do so many so-called experts feel that you are an air-head if you have not made a decision this late in the game?
    Rather, are you not an air-head if you vote for the person who might do the least amount of damage? What, you can't think out of the box to come up with a way to express your dismay at the elections?
    Wouldn't it be much smarter for all those who believe that neither team is the right choice to voice that opinion via voting and otherwise communicating to those in control of our flawed system, then by choosing the team you deem "least of two evils"?

    No matter who gets in, I fear for this country!

    October 30, 2008 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Marie

    Cathy...I get your point – – though I really think you have TOO MUCH time on your hands.

    October 30, 2008 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Lisa

    Cathy, you have hit the nail on the head. There is such a double standard in our country when it comes to race. It has been painful to watch the amount of racism that has surfaced from this campaign. I cringe to see the amount of hate that will surface and no longer be whispered or tapped out through computer keys into hurtful comments on the internet, when Senator Obama wins this election.. Brace yourself because the road to success is a painful one and the daggers are about to come at full force.

    October 30, 2008 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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