News and Headlines


Yes, undecided voters still exist

Their numbers are historically high
Posted at 8:55 AM, Oct 18, 2016

If you thought the fast-approaching Election Day would put pressure on undecided voters to make up their minds —think again.

With only one presidential debate left and three weeks until votes are casts, a historically large portion of voters remains undecided. While the numbers have fallen a bit, calculations from Five Thirty Eight show that 85 percent of voters are committed to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Around this time in 2012, 95 percent of voters were committed to either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Drew Linzer, a pollster at Civiqs put together a graph showing “other” or undecided voter numbers overtime this election and compared it to previous cycles.

His data show that around 6 percent to 8 percent more voters are either still unsure or opting for third party candidates than in 2008 and 2012.

The undecided voter is often mocked. The group is sometimes thought as either comprised of voters who typically never turn out or, as Saturday Night Live put it in 2012, they’re low information voters who still need lots of questions answered, such as “who is running?”

But experts have found that this election there’s a lot more nuance to the people who remain unsure.

Frank Luntz, a polling expert who regularly holds undecided voter focus groups, says the voting bloc can be broken down into thirds: “In general, a lot are millennials who hate everyone, others are #NeverHillary Dems and #NeverTrump Republicans. About 10 percent of each party.”

The majority of undecided voters, and those leaning third party, are millennials in the 18-35 age range. But they’re not uncommitted because they aren’t educated — they’re just not engaged.

“This is in no way tied to apathy,” John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, told DecodeDC in Sept. “Their frustration is because they want to do more than vote.” They want to become part of the campaign, Volpe said, and part of “the movement that will lead our country forward.” But he said not enough of them feel connected to Trump or Clinton to make that commitment like they did in 2008.


Additionally, the majority of undecided voters are white. It’s a fact that's terribly shocking when you think of the places undecided voters may be most likely to reside in — battleground states. The demographics in states like Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire are overwhelmingly white.

“They look a lot like the rest of America, largely white,” Volpe said. “I can predict the political opinions of people based on the race. Hispanics and blacks are supporting Hillary. For undecideds, most of them are white.”