Can McCain win undecideds?

Peter Brown:

Verne and Lois Spence neatly explain why Sen. John McCain trails in his race for the White House, and how he could win the Oval Office when it gets to November.

The couple isn’t sure whom they will vote for in November, but in the past they have generally backed Republicans for president.

They are concerned about the economy, which gives Sen. Barack Obama a chance for their votes. Yet they are skeptical about Democrats on national security in general and Sen. Obama in particular.

Verne, a 60-year-old retired Volusia County deputy sheriff, and Lois, 63, a property manager, typify the millions of Americans who will decide the November election. They are not overly political and are only now beginning to focus on the election.

They are blue-collar in mindset and lifestyle, if not in current occupation — their annual vacation is a three-week motorcycle trip around America.

Their mixed feelings about the presidential race — and especially who will best keep America safe — mirror the uncertainty that a series of Quinnipiac University polls nationally, and in key battleground states, found in the electorate. These voters, who make up about one-fifth of the electorate, think the Iraq war was a mistake for the U.S. — which is a cornerstone of Sen. Obama’s campaign — yet they are more comfortable with the proposed solution suggested by Sen. McCain.

Although the last week has seen much talk about eventual withdrawal, the dispute over the wisdom of the Iraq war and what course the U.S. should pursue there now can be seen as a proxy for the divide among the American people about how the next president should conduct foreign affairs.

“Obama is a good talker and he might be good for the economy, but I like McCain’s military background,” said Mr. Spence. “With Obama, I just don’t know what he will do — he might just pull our troops out in the middle of the night. Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat I voted for — and I haven’t trusted the Democrats (regarding national security) since he gave away the Panama Canal.”

The Quinnipiac state surveys (click here and here) were conducted in June of voters in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Colorado. The latter four surveys were done in conjunction with The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com.

On average, 21% of the voters in those seven states said they thought going to war was a mistake, but favored the McCain plan for where to go from here.

Yet, when surveyed about their presidential preferences in June, 60% of these same voters said they were supporting or leaning to Sen. Obama, while only 31% said they were in favor of or leaning to Sen. McCain.

By comparison, among all voters surveyed in those states at the time, Sen. Obama led Sen. McCain by a narrower average of 50%-41%, the same margin he was ahead in the Quinnipiac national poll released earlier this month.

...

I think that Obama can lose the undecideds. He did through most of the primaries. Most of teh fluctuation in the polls has been with Obama losing voters while McCain seems to be holding his core and there are still around 10 percent more who have remained undecided.

there is good reason for all of these undecided and fluctuating voters to vote against Obama. His rigid time table for Iraq withdrawal is only supported by 30 percent of voters. His tax policies and energy policies are both opposed by a majority of voters. McCain has to get those voters to recognize that Obama is on the wrong side of those issues.

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