Rara Civis [Rare Citizen]

By Frank Blechman

The polls say that although the creature is rare (less than 5% of the voting population), there is still such a thing as an “undecided voter.” Maybe the quarantine is keeping me too isolated, but I have not spotted one this year. Have you?

I certainly know quite a few pro-Trump voters and anti-Trump voters, and even some pro-Biden voters. I am not sure where to go look for an undecided voter.

I asked experts if they had sited undecided voters, and if so, where I could go to see one. The best answer I got is that someone had heard of an undecided voter in New Mexico; a disgruntled Republican female federal employee unhappy with Trump, but not yet ready to support Biden. Other than that, I got nothing.

So, what does this mean for Virginia? First of all, it means that if there are no (or very few who can be found) persuadable voters here, fewer campaign resources will be devoted to persuasion. There will be fewer TV ads, candidate visits, targeted issue messages, and mailings. For those of us annoyed by the repetitive “the-sky-is-falling (unless you give $5 by midnight tonight)” drumbeat, this may be a relief. At the same time, it means that we will see less of the campaigns, and therefore understand less about what they are trying to communicate.

Events and their partisan spin will reaffirm already decided minds. Even the most important questions about the economy, the pandemic, the environment, and national security will fade into background noise.

The communication we get over the next five weeks will all be aimed at partisan turnout. It will be less focused on positive promises for a better future, and more filled with dire negative images of the future under the worst possible conditions if the other side wins. For those of us who like to believe that politics is about affirmatively building support for solutions to challenges, that tone won’t be encouraging.

Events and their partisan spin will reaffirm already decided minds. Even the most important questions about the economy, the pandemic, the environment, and national security will fade into background noise.

If there are any undecided voters, particularly ones who care about specific issues, they need to make their voices heard now. Otherwise, the undecided voter is an antique extinct species; mourned, but gone from the landscape.

One final thought about substantive messaging before we descend into the mindless madness of the campaigns’ last weeks: During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, I was pleased to hear demonstrators say, “Those in power should be happy that we have come for justice, not for revenge.” I sure would welcome a few of those messages from my party’s leaders.

 



Categories: elections, Issues, Local, National, pandemic, politics, VOTING RIGHTS

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