Undecided voters: After Bruce Lee, a swing toward Obama

October 31, 2012

Alex Keefe

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With less than a week before the presidential election, the vast majority of voters have already made up their minds.

But not all of them have. 

WBEZ has been tracking three undecided voters from the Chicago region leading up until Election Day, to document their decision making process - and to see how they cast their ballots on Nov. 6.

Today we hear from 34-year-old Jay Abedelal, of Chicago, who works admissions at a for-profit school here. If you remember Abedelal, it might be as the guy who said a few weeks back his ideal presidential candidate was martial arts movie star Bruce Lee.

Abedelal’s been busy since we last heard from him. This week, at a downtown college, he finally showed me what he’s been up to: film editing.

Abedelal sits at a computer clicking away at some video clips he’s been editing for a film class. For about 15 hours each week, he’s basically making a bunch of small decisions about music tracks and what to cut.

But he’s still made time to think about his big decision: how he’ll vote in the presidential election. A few weeks ago, Abedelal said if he didn’t find his ideal candidate – someone with the strenth of character he sees in Bruce Lee - he may not even vote. 

But now, he’s thinking pragmatically - about voting for someone who can win, versus someone who he thinks should win.

"Even if somebody did have the attributes of Bruce Lee...it’s almost impossible [to win] if you’re not a Republican or Democrat," Abedelal said. "And that’s just the way it is."

Abedelal had earlier considered writing in Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, a Libertarian favorite. He later said he was thinking of voting for the Green Party. But now, it seems Abedelal is leaning against casting a third party vote.

That leaves him leaning toward voting again for Democratic President Barack Obama. (Abedelal, who is Muslim, had earlier ruled out voting Republican because he feels his faith was villified after 9/11.)

But he says there’s also something larger going on.

Namely, this radio series.

"Since I’m on a radio station where thousands – tens of thousands – of people are listening to me, I think it’s a – it’s a big responsibility for me to get enough information to make an educated decision," Abedelal said.

So Abedelal says he’s more plugged in to a presidential race than he’s been in years. He talks politics with friends, listens to radio news, and watches clips from the debates on You-Tube.

Abedelal says he’s not gonna be an “impulse voter” on Tuesday. He’s weighing the issues: He said he likes President Obama’s health care plan, but questions Romney’s aggressive stance toward Iran.

So I asked him the big question when we met earlier this week: If the election were held today, who would he vote for?

"If it was today? I’d probably vote for Obama," he said.

It’s the most confident answer I’ve heard yet from Abedelal. But there are still six days to go.