While there is a layer of truth to many of these assertions, in some swing states the changing economic and political environment is influencing not only who these undecided voters are, but also why they are unable to make up their minds.
North Carolina is a prime example. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau changed the classification of North Carolina from a rural state to an urban state. The state has experienced a tremendous amount of population growth as a result of southern migration from northern rust belt states. Additionally, NC currently has the 5th highest unemployment rate among all states at 9.7%. The unemployment rate is high for a variety of reasons. Manufacturing, an industry hit very hard in the economic downturn, accounts for 22% of NC’s economy compared to the national average, which is 13%. The economic dip among sectors like manufacturing and construction has resulted in higher unemployment - specifically among men.
As more men have become unemployed and more women earn degrees, females have been stepping up to the plate as breadwinners, heads of households and the key decision makers in the home. In 1970, a woman’s income accounted for 2-6% of a family’s income. Today that number is 42%. A new internal poll shows for the first time ever, white women are expressing more significant concern over economic issues than men. These women are successful, smart, engaged, and yes, undecided on whom to vote for this election cycle.
These females are independent, deliberate and weighing their options, but they aren’t making decisions the way voters have traditionally made them in the past. It matters much less whether a candidate is Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green, etc. And while women have historically focused on family issues, or health care and education, now as breadwinners and successful professionals, they are weighing economic issues far more heavily than they have in the past.
When it comes to this small cohort of women voters, they are finding themselves torn and undecided on how to vote. They want to hear solutions, plans and specifics on how to get the economy back on track so they can take care of themselves and their families. They are much more candidate focused and less interested in party platforms or ideology.
As a result, candidates must change their message and reassess how they communicate to voters. In North Carolina this means Republicans cannot overlook education policy, and Democrats will have to be specific in how to reduce spending. If a candidate wants to earn this undecided vote, they will need to say HOW they are going to make a difference. How are you going to help companies hire more? What is your jobs plan for getting my kid out of the basement?
North Carolina is not unique to this situation. Other southern states like Alabama, which have high manufacturing economies, have also seen more women become the family CFO and more single women rise up the professional ladder. These women are tuned-in, engaged and hoping candidates will give them the information they need in order to make an informed decision. The ability of the candidates to do that will mean success or failure in November.