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Undecided Voters in the November Presidential Election: A National Survey

AARP commissioned this survey of undecided voters in order to assess the likelihood that these undecided voters will vote in the November 2008 election, the topics and issues that are central to these voters in determining which candidate to support, and these voters’ sense of the likelihood of breaking partisan gridlock in the new administration. This executive summary, by Jeff Love, reveals that a majority of likely voters see the economy as the most important election issue. Additionally, voters recognize the importance of ending partisan gridlock in achieving progress on matters of financial security and health care.

Survey findings include:

  • Voters who have not completely made up their minds about for whom they plan to vote tend to be older (67% are aged 50 and older), female (67%), married, well-educated (26% have at least some college, and 36% have a college degree or more), almost always vote in presidential elections, are relatively well off financially (35% report earning over $50,000 annually), are largely Caucasian (85% white), are more likely to be a political independent (37%), and consider themselves to be a moderate (47%).
  • Eighty-one percent of undecided voters say the upcoming debates will be very or somewhat important to their decision about for whom they plan to vote.
  • Over half (51%) of undecided voters say that regardless of who wins the election, economic issues like jobs, the budget, rising prices, and taxes should be addressed by the new President in the first 100 days of his administration.
  • Undecided voters do not feel they have enough information to determine who would be best at tackling the health care and economic crises before us today.
  • When asked who would break through special interests and partisan gridlock to make real progress on the economy and health care, the plurality of undecided voters (40%) again reveal that they do not know enough about the candidates to be able to judge. Twenty five percent mention Senator Obama, and 19% mention Senator McCain.

The AARP Undecided Voter Survey obtained telephone interviews with a sample of 1,000 respondents drawn at random who were at least 18 years old, likely to vote in the November presidential election, and not firmly committed to any presidential candidate. The interviews were conducted in English by Woelfel Research, Inc. from August 29 to September 14, 2008. For additional information contact Jeff Love at 202-434-6279. (12 pages)

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