As Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama prepare to meet again for tonight’s second presidential debate, they’ll face not only the moderator and each other, but local undecided voters.
Frank Newport is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and, as it turns out, is responsible for picking the voters who get seated at the debate. When voters in the area around the venue answer Gallup’s questions, the pollsters are on the lookout for people who haven’t yet made up their mind about the top of the ticket. Some of those uncommitted voters are invited to attend the debate and ask questions.
And while some might worry that these voters will use the airtime as their personal soapbox, Newport says that’s rarely the case.
“A lot of people are very worried that these people are going to ask bizarre questions, you know, ‘My sister was abducted by a UFO, Mr. President,'” Newport says.
Instead, we’re more likely to hear questions about domestic and foreign policy, chosen ahead of time by moderator Candy Crowley and her CNN production team.
Also, turns out that the basic profile of the undecided voter hasn’t changed significantly since the ’90s.
“They tend to be more white than average,” Newport said. “And they tend to be a little more middle-aged and older.”
And just three weeks to Election Day, Newport insists some voters really have not yet made up their minds. “It could be as many in our data as 1 out of 5, who are maybe leaning one way or the other.”
Both campaigns will be watching closely tonight to see if their candidate can move that needle.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.