Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post is one of the best of this nation's roughly 40,000 reporters, a man who likes complicated science stories, but also a shoeleather reporter ready and willing to go on a hunt to hardscrabble Ohio in search of that mythical beast, the undecided voter.
How does he find him (or her?) He interviews and interviews and interviews. And comes back with a simple truth that a zillion pollsters this election year have yet to clearly articulate, in my reading:
A lot of voters are lukewarm about the guy they support, but they are white hot about the guy they loathe.
Dig into the quotes and you begin to suspect a deeper truth: The undecided voter is a person who hates the partianship. A person who hates the bitterness and hating of politics.
Look at it this way, and it's easy to understand why the undecided voter is difficult to persuade. And easy to see why pollsters increasingly doubt anything dramatic will change in six weeks. Today long analyses from both the L.A. Times and The New Republic landed on the same basic conclusion:
As for the relatively few undecideds in the middle, research indicates that they are less likely to vote early than partisans on either side, preferring to wait until the last minute to make up their minds — if they vote at all.
Never thought I understood the undecided voter before -- or respected him as much.