Undecided voter: From GOP to Democrat, and back again?

November 2, 2012

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(WBEZ/Alex Keefe)
Kurt Jurgens, left, at his home with his wife, Laura, and their five children.

To understand how 37-year-old Kurt Jurgens is thinking about the presidential race, first we have to do a family roll call.

Jurgens has four lively children sitting at his kitchen table when I visited his home earlier this week – plus a toddler who’s napping when I visit house in south suburban New Lenox. The house itself is two stories, and 2,700 square feet, he said.

But throw in some extended family, a handful of pets, and that’s a head count that has Kurt and his wife, Laura, looking to buy a bigger house nearby.

“It’s a four-bedroom, three-bath house,” Kurt explains.

"It boils down to, you know, whatever you wanna call the ‘American Dream’ – having your own little piece of the world that you call your own,” Laura said.

You might remember Kurt Jurgens as the guy who likes to ask himself a lot of questions. He’s a life-long Republican who’d been considering a vote for President Obama, in part, because of what he calls his “disdain” for Mitt Romney.

But lately, Kurt’s been thinking about that new house – and asking himself whether he and his wife could still afford it if the Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class are allowed to expire.

“Can we as a individual family unit survive if it’s gonna cost me an additional $200 a month?” he said. “I’m not so sure it can.”

President Obama has said he’d keep the tax cuts for middle-class earners like Jurgens. And Romney wants to make them even lower than they are now.

Still, Jurgens isn’t exactly crazy about either candidate.

He calls President Obama’s foreign policy “awful.” And he says Romney “can’t keep his shoe out of his mouth.”

But lately, Jurgens says it’s the tax issue that’s coming to the forefront.

“The lint that’s growing in my pocket is probably the most significant,” he said recently when I asked him about what’s affecting his vote. “If it wasn’t, it would be considerably easier to be more idealistic.”

So who will get his vote on Tuesday?

“I’d vote for Romney, just because I think we need a change,” Jurgens said.

It doesn’t exactly sound like a full-throated endorsement. His 11-year-old daughter, Kiah, seems to sum up her father’s thoughts on the presidential race.

“No, I don’t like either of them,” she laughed, referring to both Romney and Mr. Obama. “So I’m glad I don’t have to vote.”