At 9pm ET, by some miracle, 80 undecided voters who would normally lack the bearings to put on pants in the morning, let alone make it to a presidential debate, will pile into the Mack Sports Complex at Hoftsra University to ask probing questions of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Or, as these voters know them, thatguy and whatshisface.
But there's more to undecided voters than low attention spans and a childhood diet of lead paint chips. We should take the time to get know them, just as they've completely failed to get to know the issues and the candidates…
Common Sense Guy
The existence of "common sense solutions" shines as the lodestar in this dude's political firmament. Political instability in the Middle East? Stagnation in median wages since the 1970s? The rising cost of health insurance? All can be resolved with common sense solutions, most of which involve Common Sense Guy paying less taxes and receiving more services.
All that stands in the way of common sense solutions are "the politicians," who must be replaced with "regular people." Common Sense Guy was last seen complaining about his property taxes while demanding that his school district cut class sizes by another 10%.
Secret Partisan Attention Whore
In an election between a heartless plutocrat bent on sending Medicare recipients to the salt mines and a Kenyan socialist calling for an expropriation of the expropriators, Secret Partisan Attention Whore has long made up his mind. But he's not telling the Gallup organization — which has been slated to select undecided voters for tonight's forum — any of that.
This voter knows that once a decision is announced, the gravy train of CNN interviews and fawning campaign attention will pull out of Undecided Station, and he is not ready for that to happen.
Just Started Paying Attention Lady
For the most hopeless of political junkies, the campaign season begins with jockeying in the Iowa Caucuses. Most Americans, however, do not pant, "Yeah, give me that good raw shit" at the television, as they yearn for another gaffe fix from the CSPAN cameras. Just Started Paying Attention Lady happens to be a sub-species of a level-headed American, who — unlike some political blog writers — does not need a steady intake of political resentment in order to feel alive.
Though Just Started Paying Attention Lady is a classic low-information voter, she will quickly pick up the essentials, such as the names of the candidates and what office they're running for.
The Ralph Wiggum American
While Just Started Paying Attention can be charitably described as "rationally ignorant," as they ignore political information because they choose to employ their scarce time in the service of something that will bring them greater psychic pleasure, some undecided voters are hopeless.
For the Ralph Wiggum American, "the doctor said I wouldn't have so many nose bleeds if I kept my finger outta there" and "I ate the blue ones… they taste like burning" will be the closest they will come to forming an opinion on Obamacare.
Overthinks Everything Dude
Contra the typical undecided, this voter knows the ins and outs of Federal Reserve policy. He just happens to refer to the Fed as "The Creature from Jekyll Island" and wants to see it abolished. Alternatively, his main concern is the war on drugs or the rampant violation of civil liberties carried out by both parties. He may annoyingly refer to Democrats and Republicans as "legacy parties."
This voter isn't dumb, he just hasn't decided whether to cast a ballot for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, write in Ron Paul, or vote for one of the main candidates in order to "heighten the contradictions." Unlike political reporters asking, "What about your gaffes," Overthinks Everything Dude may surprise us by asking, "What about your drones?"
Photo by Martin Barraud/Stone/Getty Images
Tags: Barack Obama, Debates, Mitt Romney