WBEZ | The Undecideds http://www.wbez.org/tags/undecideds Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Undecided voter: From GOP to Democrat, and back again? http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voter-gop-democrat-and-back-again-103608 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/photo (1)_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>To understand how 37-year-old Kurt Jurgens is thinking about the presidential race, first we have to do a family roll call.</p><p>Jurgens has four lively children sitting at his kitchen table when I visited his home earlier this week &ndash; plus a toddler who&rsquo;s napping when I visit house in south suburban New Lenox. The house itself is two stories, and 2,700 square feet, he said.</p><p>But throw in some extended family, a handful of pets, and that&rsquo;s a head count that has Kurt and his wife, Laura, looking to buy a bigger house nearby.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a four-bedroom, three-bath house,&rdquo; Kurt explains.</p><p>&quot;It boils down to, you know, whatever you wanna call the &lsquo;American Dream&rsquo; &ndash; having your own little piece of the world that you call your own,&rdquo; Laura said.</p><p>You might remember Kurt Jurgens as the guy who likes to ask himself a lot of questions. He&rsquo;s a life-long Republican who&rsquo;d been considering a vote for President Obama, in part, because of what he calls his &ldquo;disdain&rdquo; for Mitt Romney.</p><p>But lately, Kurt&rsquo;s been thinking about that new house &ndash; 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.</p><p>&ldquo;Can we as a individual family unit survive if it&rsquo;s gonna cost me an additional $200 a month?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not so sure it can.&rdquo;</p><p>President Obama has said he&rsquo;d keep the tax cuts for middle-class earners like Jurgens. And Romney wants to make them even lower than they are now.</p><p>Still, Jurgens isn&rsquo;t exactly crazy about either candidate.</p><p>He calls President Obama&rsquo;s foreign policy &ldquo;awful.&rdquo; And he says Romney &ldquo;can&rsquo;t keep his shoe out of his mouth.&rdquo;</p><p>But lately, Jurgens says it&rsquo;s the tax issue that&rsquo;s coming to the forefront.</p><p>&ldquo;The lint that&rsquo;s growing in my pocket is probably the most significant,&rdquo; he said recently when I asked him about what&rsquo;s affecting his vote. &ldquo;If it wasn&rsquo;t, it would be considerably easier to be more idealistic.&rdquo;</p><p>So who will get his vote on Tuesday?</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d vote for Romney, just because I think we need a change,&rdquo; Jurgens said.</p><p>It doesn&rsquo;t exactly sound like a full-throated endorsement. His 11-year-old daughter, Kiah, seems to sum up her father&rsquo;s thoughts on the presidential race.</p><p>&ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t like either of them,&rdquo; she laughed, referring to both Romney and Mr. Obama. &ldquo;So I&rsquo;m glad I don&rsquo;t have to vote.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 02 Nov 2012 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voter-gop-democrat-and-back-again-103608 'Ode to Joy': Undecided voter finally makes up her mind http://www.wbez.org/news/ode-joy-undecided-voter-finally-makes-her-mind-103578 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/violin2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>53-year-old Bridget Kerans almost didn&rsquo;t have time for an interview before Election Day.</p><p>After all, she&rsquo;s got her job at a suburban library, online college classes, family obligations &ndash; not to mention practice time.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve wanted to do the violin for years,&rdquo; Kerans said once I&rsquo;d finally buttonholed her (and her violin) at a Starbucks in Schaumburg, where she lives. She even played a few notes of &ldquo;Ode to Joy&rdquo; before starting to talk politics.</p><p>Kerans has been one of three undecided voters WBEZ has been following over the past few weeks, to document how they make their final decision about whom to vote for in the 2012 presidential race.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-elusive-undecided-voter-102766">To recap:</a> Kerans was the die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter from 2008 Democratic Parimary, who never got on board with President Barack Obama.</p><p>In 2012, she has been pretty gung-ho about Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, a Libertarian icon. She recently emailed me a handmade poster she&rsquo;d taped to her house, featuring a cartoon Paul dressed in a Superman outfit.<br /><br />But during the recent presidential debates on TV, Kerans says she saw something in Republican Mitt Romney &ndash; something she hadn&rsquo;t noticed before.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m looking at the face, I&rsquo;m looking at the eyes. I honest-to-God swear I can see him thinking,&rdquo; she said as we met over coffee earlier this week. &ldquo;The gears are going, you know? &hellip; And he really &ndash; the last time, he made me feel proud.&rdquo;<br /><br />Kearns says she was drawn in by Romney&rsquo;s &ldquo;Five Point Plan&rdquo; to right the economy, which his campaign says would cut back on taxes, regulation and government spending.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a big issue for Kerans, who said she still remembers what it felt like to get laid off when her long-time job was outsourced a few years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;I had to start over again in my forties &ndash; late 40s,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And now, you know, I have to do everything, so you just don&rsquo;t wanna go down that road again.&rdquo;</p><p>Kerans says she&rsquo;s counting on Romney&rsquo;s business experience to help create jobs. And she&rsquo;s also hoping he&rsquo;ll make the GOP more moderate.</p><p>So what happened to Ron Paul?<br /><br />&ldquo;I wish he was the one. I really do. I want him so bad,&rdquo; Kerans said, laughing.</p><p>But not bad enough to write in Paul on Tuesday&rsquo;s ballot, she said. And by the time the coffee&rsquo;s gone, it sounds like she&rsquo;s finally made her decision.<br /><br />&ldquo;Well, it&rsquo;s gotten much easier and it&rsquo;ll be Romney,&rdquo; she said, when I ask who she&rsquo;d vote for if she had to decide just then.</p><p>Now that she seems to have decided her presidential vote, Kerans can spend more time on other pursuits &ndash; like the violin.</p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ode-joy-undecided-voter-finally-makes-her-mind-103578 Undecided voters: After Bruce Lee, a swing toward Obama http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voters-after-bruce-lee-swing-toward-obama-103546 <p><p>With less than a week before the presidential election,&nbsp;the vast majority of voters have already made up their minds.<br /><br />But not all of them have.&nbsp;</p><p>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.</p><p>Today we hear from&nbsp;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.</p><p>Abedelal&rsquo;s been busy since we last heard from him. This week, at a downtown college, he finally showed me what he&rsquo;s been up to: film editing.</p><p>Abedelal sits at a computer clicking away at some video clips he&rsquo;s been editing for a film class.&nbsp;For about 15 hours each week, he&rsquo;s basically making a bunch of small decisions about music tracks and what to cut.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s still made time to think about his big decision: how he&rsquo;ll vote in the presidential election.&nbsp;A few weeks ago, Abedelal said if he didn&rsquo;t find his ideal candidate &ndash; someone with the strenth of character he sees in Bruce Lee - he may not even vote.&nbsp;</p><p>But now, he&rsquo;s thinking pragmatically - about voting for someone who can win, versus someone who he thinks should win.</p><p>&quot;Even if somebody did have the attributes of Bruce Lee...it&rsquo;s almost impossible [to win] if you&rsquo;re not a Republican or Democrat,&quot; Abedelal said. &quot;And that&rsquo;s just the way it is.&quot;</p><p>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.</p><p>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.)<br /><br />But he says there&rsquo;s also something larger going on.<br /><br />Namely, this radio series.<br /><br />&quot;Since I&rsquo;m on a radio station where thousands &ndash; tens of thousands &ndash; of people are listening to me, I think it&rsquo;s a &ndash; it&rsquo;s a big responsibility for me to get enough information to make an educated decision,&quot; Abedelal said.<br /><br />So Abedelal says he&rsquo;s more plugged in to a presidential race than he&rsquo;s been in years.&nbsp;He talks politics with friends, listens to radio news, and watches clips from the debates on You-Tube.<br /><br />Abedelal says he&rsquo;s not gonna be an &ldquo;impulse voter&rdquo; on Tuesday.&nbsp;He&rsquo;s weighing the issues:&nbsp;He said he likes President Obama&rsquo;s health care plan, but questions Romney&rsquo;s aggressive stance toward Iran.</p><p>So I asked him the big question when we met earlier this week: If the election were held today, who would he vote for?<br /><br />&quot;If it was today? I&rsquo;d probably vote for Obama,&quot; he said.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s the most confident answer I&rsquo;ve heard yet from Abedelal.&nbsp;But there are still six days to go.</p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 06:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voters-after-bruce-lee-swing-toward-obama-103546 Undecided voters: Mixed reactions, emoticons for second presidential debate http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voters-mixed-reactions-emoticons-second-presidential-debate-103214 <p><p>Was it the comeback debate for the president? Or was it too little, too late?</p><p>Victory, it turns out, is in the eye of the undecided voter.</p><p>If you&rsquo;ve been following our<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/undecideds"> previous stories</a>, you&rsquo;ll know that WBEZ has been conducting a decidedly unscientific study of northern Illinois voters who are still undecided about which presidential candidate they&rsquo;ll be voting for.</p><p>We checked in with them again following Wednesday&rsquo;s debate to see whether the town hall-style showdown swayed their opinion of either Democratic President Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney &ndash; or, for that matter, Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul or martial arts superstar Bruce Lee. (Spoiler alert: &ldquo;childish&rdquo; is a word that comes up more than once.)</p><p><u>Kurt Jurgens: Just the facts, ma&rsquo;am</u></p><p>You might remember <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/lifelong-republican-potential-vote-obama-102812">Kurt Jurgens</a> as the lifelong Republican-turned-undecided voter who said he doesn&rsquo;t know if he can vote red in 2012 because he&rsquo;d come to &ldquo;despise&rdquo; what he perceived as Romney&rsquo;s inauthenticity&hellip;but he still has reservations about Mr. Obama.</p><p>Jurgens sent me a detailed post-debate email (he watched on TV alongside his 11- and 9-year-old daughters) chronicling his to-the-minute reactions, talking point by talking point.</p><p>There&rsquo;s also a lively text message exchange with a &ldquo;Liberal Friend.&rdquo; Some excerpted highlights, as emailed to me:</p><ul><li>Highlighted Texts to Liberal Friend<ul><li>8:05: Romney started the same way nebulously</li><li>8:07: President came out swinging on ed w/ 3 pts</li><li>8:17: Romney and the president are fighting for who supports drilling more :(</li><li>8:32 5 point plan [Romney&#39;s] isn&#39;t bad</li><li>8:34 President trashed Romney on spending :)</li><li>8:39 Gender inequality Obama empathetic</li><li>9:17 Mr Romney sit down you liar</li><li>9:36 Both the President and Romney have no idea about the reality about manufacturing creating jobs [pandering to OH] Mechanizing will take all manufacturing jobs</li></ul></li></ul><p>As you can see, Jurgens has his visceral reactions as much as the next undecided voter (he calls Romney a &ldquo;liar&rdquo; and gives both men a sad-face emoticon when they discuss drilling for oil). He says Romney acted &ldquo;childish&rdquo; at times, and even said he&rsquo;d go about fact-checking the tiff over <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/12/remarks-president-deaths-us-embassy-staff-libya">remarks</a> the president made following the attack on a U.S. embassy in Libya.</p><p>But if you recall, Jurgens also said talking with friends and family about nitty-gritty policy points also influences his vote (consider a recent email sent to me at 6:43 a.m., with the opening line, &ldquo;Had a fantastic discussion with a friend at work yesterday about capital gains taxes&hellip;&rdquo;)</p><p>Wednesday night, Jurgens noted how his 11-year-old daughter &ndash; a favorite debate-watching pal of his &ndash; declared Romney was losing when he talked about gender inequality.</p><p>So which candidate won?</p><p>&ldquo;The President won this one,&rdquo; wrote Jurgens, who had declared Romney the victor during the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/undecided-voters-pick-clear-debate-winner-%E2%80%94-remain-undecided-102909"> first debate</a>.</p><p>Okay, then who gets his vote? That&rsquo;s a bit more difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;If I reduce it to economy and leadership, [I&rsquo;m] going with Romney on the [economy] and Obama on leadership,&rdquo; Jurgens writes. When I work him down to only one hypothetical vote, Jurgens said he&rsquo;s &ldquo;still leaning towards Obama.&rdquo;</p><p><u>Jay Abedelal: Ron Paul? Or Bruce Lee?</u></p><p>Our second undecided voter, 34-year-old Chicagoan Jay Abedelal, said he was a bit too tied up with school work to watch the debate, but &ldquo;saw some footage, read from a few newspapers, spoke to a few people&rdquo; to play political catch-up.</p><p>You&rsquo;ll likely remember <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voter-bruce-lee-beats-both-obama-and-romney-102847">Abedelal </a>for being the undecided voter who&rsquo;s looking for a candidate who shares qualities with Bruce Lee. (Yes, that Bruce Lee. Abedelal even received some&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/10/06/162413993/whos-carl-this-time">public radio pseudo-fame</a> recently after our <em>Wait, Wait...</em> colleagues upstairs heard his story on WBEZ.)</p><p>In fact, Abedelal said he was undecided between voting for Mr. Obama again, writing in Texas Republican Ron Paul, or not voting at all, if he didn&rsquo;t find someone he believed in.</p><p>The first time around, Abedelal praised Romney&rsquo;s debate performance, even though he&rsquo;d earlier criticized the Republican party for what he saw as unfair attacks on his Muslim faith after Sept. 11.</p><p>But this time, Abedelal flipped: &ldquo;Obama did a much better job being more aggressive and owning the room to make Romney look like a rich guy who will take care of his rich friends and not the middle/working class,&rdquo; he wrote in an email.</p><p>He also said Romney &ldquo;made himself look dumb by interrupting the president&rdquo; during some of the debate&rsquo;s<a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/2nd-presidential-debate-2012-highlights-testy-debate-17497977"> testier exchanges</a>, saying this made the GOP nominee look &ldquo;childish.&rdquo;</p><p>But while Abedelal said Mr. Obama &ldquo;won this battle,&rdquo; he still seems to have reservations.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/280-bridget%20sign.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" />&ldquo;Unfortunately the first debate mattered much more for Obama, and he did well in this debate which was too little too late,&rdquo; Abedelal said. &ldquo;He just had to save face.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><p>If the election were held today?</p><p>&ldquo;I would write in the person,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it looks like Paul for now.&quot;</p><p><u>Super Ron Paul</u></p><p>I&#39;m still waiting for a post-debate post-mortem from our third undecided voter, 50-year-old library technician <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-elusive-undecided-voter-102766">Bridget Kerans</a>, from Schaumburg. The die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter was previously weighing whether to choose Mitt Romney or write in Ron Paul, the Libertarian-leaning Republican congressman from Texas.</p><p>No word on which way she&#39;s leaning after Wednesday night, but a couple of weeks back, she did send me this photo of Paul, dressed like Superman, on a poster she&#39;d taped up to her house.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 17 Oct 2012 15:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voters-mixed-reactions-emoticons-second-presidential-debate-103214 Undecided voters pick clear debate winner — but remain undecided http://www.wbez.org/undecided-voters-pick-clear-debate-winner-%E2%80%94-remain-undecided-102909 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/undecided debate pic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Political pollsters say the presidential debates could play a big role in swaying undecided voters this election season.</p><div><p>WBEZ is tracking three undecideds leading up to Election Day, and we hosted a watch party at our studios for the first debate Wednesday night.</p><p>But at this watch party, the most surprising moment wasn&rsquo;t when Democratic President Barack Obama got snippy with the moderator, or when Republican Mitt Romney brought up Sesame Street&rsquo;s Big Bird.</p><p>It was about 34 minutes into the debate, when Jay Abedelal &ndash; one of our undecided voters from Chicago &ndash; chimed in with this: &ldquo;I actually like Romney in this debate so far,&rdquo; Abedelal said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not Bruce Lee, but, you know.&rdquo;</p><p>You might remember Abedelal as the disillusioned college recruiter who named Bruce Lee as his ideal candidate. But he&rsquo;s also the guy who says he&rsquo;d never vote Republican, because he feels the GOP vilified his Muslim faith after the attacks of Sept. 11.</p><p>And yet there he was, watching Romney on CNN, praising his sincerity.</p><p>&ldquo;Romney&rsquo;s using a lot of heart, passion. I like that,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Political pollsters say this is why the sliver of remaining undecided voters are so hard to predict. One thing I learned quickly: They don&rsquo;t like negativity, like when President Obama attacked his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush for leaving him with a $1 trillion budget deficit.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, just get over it. We know!&rdquo; said library technician Bridget Kerans, from Schaumburg.</p></div><p>Keran is the ex-Hillary Clinton Democrat who&rsquo;s sworn off voting for the president.</p><p>In studio, our third undecided voter &ndash; Kurt Jurgens &ndash; agreed about the negativity. He&rsquo;s a life-long Republican from south suburban New Lenox, who&rsquo;d been leaning toward Obama.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, the past doesn&rsquo;t matter. The question is how are we going to address the things that we have to deal with now?&rdquo; Jurgens asked the television.</p><p>&ldquo;Exactly. Learn from the past, talk about it briefly, as a lesson, and move effin&rsquo; forward,&rdquo; said Abedelal.</p><p>But after Mitt Romney mentioned how he doesn&rsquo;t want to cut military spending as a way to help balance the budget, both Jurgens and Jay Abedelal jumped in once again, saying they disagree.</p><p>Kerans, meanwhile, was quick to defend Romney.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it&rsquo;s not to keep us in a war, it&rsquo;s to keep us strong,&rdquo; she said of Romney&rsquo;s plan to keep military spending intact. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just saying, I don&rsquo;t want a weak military.&rdquo;</p><p>And so the three had their own sort of debate, as the TV droned in the background. They agree on a lot &ndash; they&rsquo;re sick of negativity, and they say they&rsquo;re worse-off financially than they were four years ago. When the debate was finally over, I got a consistent reaction to President Obama&rsquo;s performance: all say the president both attacked too much, and also seemed to be playing defense.</p><p>Mitt Romney got higher marks for being more authentic and measured.</p><p>Just last week all three undecided voters had acknowledged President Obama&rsquo;s eloquence and charisma. But Wednesday night, they said Romney was the clear winner.</p><p>The question is, did this change who they&rsquo;d vote for if the election were right then, just after the debate?</p><p>&ldquo;I think that Obama really ruined it for himself more than Romney won it,&rdquo; said Kurt Jurgens, who had been leaning toward voting for Mr. Obama when we first spoke last week. &ldquo;At this point, I think I&rsquo;m still leaning towards Obama.&rdquo;</p><p>Kerans, meanwhile, said she&rsquo;d been inclined to write in Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who leans Libertarian. But she seems to have shifted her opinion a bit after the debate.</p><p>&ldquo;I would probably take a chance with Romney,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Hey, we had, already, four years, and we&rsquo;ve had plenty of one-term presidents, so what the hay?&rdquo;</p><p>And finally, what about Jay Abedelal, the Bruce Lee fan?</p><p>&ldquo;I probably wouldn&rsquo;t vote for anyone at this point,&rdquo; remarked Abedelal. &ldquo;I think Obama disappointed me. And I think Romney really saw blood and went for it, and uh, I wouldn&rsquo;t vote for anyone today.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 15:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/undecided-voters-pick-clear-debate-winner-%E2%80%94-remain-undecided-102909 'Undecided' voter: Bruce Lee beats both Obama and Romney http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voter-bruce-lee-beats-both-obama-and-romney-102847 <p><p>Undecided voters are becoming pretty hard to find as the presidential election draws near.</p><p>In Illinois, pollsters estimate they make up just about four to eight percent of the electorate. But presidential campaigns put a lot of effort into winning them over.</p><p>WBEZ is following three undecided voters from the Chicago area &ndash; and documenting their decision-making process ahead of Election Day.</p><p>When I asked our last undecided voter the big question last week &ndash; who does he plan to vote for? &ndash; I realized this one&rsquo;s a bit more complicated.</p><p>&ldquo;If the election was held today&hellip;and you&rsquo;re only talking about the two people we have right now that we can vote for?&rdquo; asked Jay Abedelal, sounding a bit disappointed.</p><p>Abedelal, 34, was born and raised in Chicago, where he works admissions at a for-profit school. He lives with his wife on the northwest side. And he doesn&rsquo;t seem too happy with either Mitt Romney or President Obama, but if he had to choose right now?</p><p>&ldquo;I would vote for Obama, because he&rsquo;s the&hellip;lesser of two evils,&rdquo; Abedelal said. &ldquo;But that being said, at this point I am undecided because I really, desperately want a third option.&rdquo;</p><p>Abedelal says he&rsquo;s been a sporadic voter over the years: He &ldquo;really, deeply&rdquo; wanted to be a Republican growing up in the 1980s, and says he liked President Ronald Reagan, even though he wasn&rsquo;t old enough to vote for him.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s also supported Democrats, such as President Bill Clinton.</p><p>After the Sept. 11, terrorist attacks, Abedelal, who is Muslim, says he turned against the GOP. He says in the years following, he feels Republicans vilified his faith, and that feeling is carrying over into the 2012 elections.</p><p>&ldquo;The only way I would ever vote for Mitt Romney or a Republican is if they would apologize for all the defamation and disrespect that they&rsquo;ve said about Muslims and Islam, and I don&rsquo;t see that happening any time soon,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Abedelal offers some qualified praise of President Obama. For instance, he likes that Mr. Obama repealed Don&rsquo;t Ask, Don&rsquo;t Tell, the ban on gays serving openly in the military.</p><p>But overall, he says the president has been too cautious.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like he is a little bit more concerned over his perception, than actually getting things done,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Unlike the other undecided voters in WBEZ&rsquo;s series, Abedelal is entertaining a third option: not voting at all.</p><p>Now, pollsters will point out that a lot of undecided voters are undecided because they don&rsquo;t care, or they don&rsquo;t have time to pay attention to politics &ndash; but Abedelal says that isn&rsquo;t the case with him.</p><p>He says his priority in a candidate is strong character, and if he doesn&rsquo;t find someone he believes in, he doesn&rsquo;t want to cast a ballot just for the sake of it.</p><p>So I ask him to forget about parties and politicians for a moment, and to describe the type of person he&rsquo;d actually like to vote for.</p><p>&ldquo;The best person I can think of, the most ideal person &ndash; he&rsquo;s not alive any more &ndash; would be like Bruce Lee.&rdquo;</p><p>As in, martial arts movie superstar Bruce Lee.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RomneyObamaLee.jpg" style="height: 231px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><p>Well, not literally, but Abedelal says he likes the values Lee stood for.</p><p>&ldquo;[He] had courage, and he did what he needed to do, and he empowered millions and millions of people &ndash; to even the new generation today,&rdquo; Abedelal said.</p><p>He says Bruce Lee was principled, yet flexible &ndash; and he fought for something bigger than himself. Still, Abedelal says he doesn&rsquo;t have faith that today&rsquo;s electoral system could produce a candidate he&rsquo;d get excited about.</p><p>&ldquo;[Anyone] that has Bruce Lee-type attributes will never get a chance,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And I think Ron Paul has some of those attributes, and he wasn&rsquo;t given much of a chance.&rdquo;</p><p>He might write in Paul, the Texas Republican Congressman with Libertarian values, but he says he needs to do more research. And, for now, Abedelal doesn&rsquo;t seem to be in a rush.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m pretty relaxed, and I&rsquo;m like, okay, I&rsquo;ll make the right decision, you know, in November and I&rsquo;m just gonna take it, you know, one day at a time,&rdquo; he said.</p></p> Tue, 02 Oct 2012 21:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/undecided-voter-bruce-lee-beats-both-obama-and-romney-102847 For lifelong Republican, a potential vote for Obama http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/lifelong-republican-potential-vote-obama-102812 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Kurt J pic.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>Pollsters estimate undecided voters make up a pretty small slice of the electoral pie &ndash; just about four to eight percent of Illinoisans expected to vote in November&rsquo;s elections.</p><p>But presidential campaigns spend a lot of time and money trying to reach that tiny group of people, especially in a year like this, when a single-digit margin could decide who wins the White House.</p><p>When I ask 37-year-old Kurt Jurgens who he&rsquo;s thinking of voting for, his answer seems pretty straightforward.</p><p>&ldquo;I would probably vote for Obama,&rdquo; Jurgens said.</p><p>Jurgens works at a non-profit that helps kids with social and behavioral problems.&nbsp;He lives in southwest suburban New Lenox with his wife and five kids.</p><p>But Jurgens&rsquo; personal politics get a bit more interesting when you consider his voting history: &ldquo;I have never selected a Democrat for office,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And I have only missed one primary that I am aware of since I have been 18 years old.&rdquo;</p><p>So what could turn the reddest voter blue?</p><p>I put the question to Jurgens, but he&rsquo;s a pretty introspective guy &ndash; so introspective he sometimes seemed to be interviewing himself.</p><p>&ldquo;Do I expect my leaders to have character? Absolutely,&rdquo; Jurgens said. &ldquo;Do I think that the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton was ridiculous? Absolutely.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t just Republicans&rsquo; handling of the Clinton sex scandal, Jurgens said. Over the years, he&rsquo;s says seen the Republican Party shift to the right, while he&rsquo;s been moving to the center.</p><p>So how does he feel about Republican Mitt Romney in 2012?</p><p>&ldquo;Almost a disdain for Romney,&rdquo; he said, saying he thinks Romney is less sincere than John Kerry &mdash; tough talk for a life-long Republican.</p><p>He says one of Romney&rsquo;s main selling points &ndash; his private business experience &ndash; isn&rsquo;t convincing, because Jurgens doesn&rsquo;t think the country should be run like a company.</p><p>And Romney&rsquo;s secretly recorded comments about the 47 percent of the electorate who will vote for President Obama no matter what didn&rsquo;t help.</p><p>&quot;Romney&rsquo;s 47 percent &ndash; is that a gaffe? Absolutely,&rdquo; Jurgens reflected. &ldquo;Inarticulate? Absolutely. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Those types of views, once again, push me more towards Obama.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Jurgens&#39; turn toward Mr. Obama is not absolute. Jurgens says he&rsquo;s socially conservative and strongly anti-abortion. And that&rsquo;s where he disagrees with President Obama.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, being that I don&rsquo;t expect either one of them to address the conservative issues that I hold dear, it then reduces it to the economy,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>So now, for the first time in his life, Jurgens says he&rsquo;s considering whether a Democrat in the White House is best suited to that task.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s not done asking questions.</p><p>&quot;Has it changed in the last four years? Unmistakably,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Is it for the better? I&rsquo;m not sure. Could it have been a lot worse? Maybe. Maybe not.&rdquo;</p><p>Jurgens says that kind of dialogue &ndash; with his friends, his family, perhaps with himself &ndash; will help him make his final decision on Election Day.</p></p> Mon, 01 Oct 2012 20:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/boys-bus/lifelong-republican-potential-vote-obama-102812 Tracking the elusive 'undecided' voter http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-elusive-undecided-voter-102766 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3002933848_cb3b56a3d6_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Illinois, pollsters estimate that undecided voters make up only four to eight percent of the electorate. But national presidential campaigns spend a lot of time and money trying to reach that tiny slice of the electorate.</p><p>So what does it take to swing a swing voter? To find out, WBEZ is tracking a few of them up until Election Day.</p><p>After all, it&rsquo;s not easy being an undecided voter this election season. Even <em>Saturday Night Live</em> recently lampooned the &ldquo;Undecideds&rdquo; with a <a href="http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/undecided-voter/1418227" target="_blank">fake campaign issues ad</a> portraying them as clueless and out-of-touch.</p><p>Fifty-three year-old Bridget Kerans is, herself, an undecided voter. She says she&rsquo;s used to getting flak from friends and relatives on either side of the aisle: conservatives call her a bleeding heart liberal, and liberals call her a right-winger.</p><p>&ldquo;Basically, the one party will call me whatever slurs go with the other party,&rdquo; Kerans said.</p><p>Kerans is a library technician from Schaumburg, where she lives in a house with her mom, four birds, a few cats and a dog. We met up recently outside a Starbucks, where I posed the kind of question political pollsters ask when they&rsquo;re calling around, trying to figure out which candidate has the most support: If the presidential election were held today, which candidate would you vote for?</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, geez,&rdquo; she said, laughing when I ask her the big question.</p><p>But Kerans says she&rsquo;s not completely undecided about who will get her vote.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I&rsquo;m seriously considering writing it in,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But, I&rsquo;m still looking at Romney, too. Because I really have nothing against Romney. He just wasn&rsquo;t my guy.&rdquo;</p><p>Kerans says her &ldquo;guy&rdquo; was veteran Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a Republican with a Libertarian bent. She likes that Paul has a lot of experience in public life &ndash; and that, like her, he votes his conscience.</p><p>The interesting thing is, four years ago, Kerans&rsquo; conscience was firmly with a&nbsp;Democrat.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, she&rsquo;s probably my knight in white armor,&rdquo; Kerans said.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rdquo; was New York U.S. Senator &ndash; now Secretary of State &ndash; Hillary Clinton.</p><p>&ldquo;She was a woman. She was intelligent. She had everything I think it takes to become president,&rdquo; Kerans explained. Kerans says her first political allegiance is to her gender &ndash; and she was crushed when Clinton bowed out of the 2008.</p><p>&ldquo;There were so many of us that can&rsquo;t &ndash; accept it,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You know, it doesn&rsquo;t mean, like, I need to be in therapy or anything. It&rsquo;s just &ndash; I was angry &ndash; I was mad!&quot;</p><p>Kerans recalls there was a phrase for die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters like her &ndash; voters who didn&rsquo;t give up their candidate, even after fellow Democrat Barack Obama got the party&rsquo;s presidential nomination.</p><p>&ldquo;PUMA,&rdquo; she said, then explained the acronym: &ldquo;Party unity my ass.&rdquo;</p><p>In true PUMA fashion, Kerns says she voted for Republican John McCain in 2008 &ndash; in part, because she liked another woman &ndash; Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.</p><p>In 2012, Kerans may not know who she wants to vote for, but she says it will not be President Obama. She says Mr. Obama went into office in 2008 with Democratic majorities in Congress, but still didn&rsquo;t fulfill some of his campaign promises.</p><p>When I ask her for specifics, she brings up something unexpected.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, okay the Horse Slaughter Act,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That was a big deal for me.&rdquo;</p><p>Now, some supporters of President Obama have been upset that he didn&rsquo;t overhaul the immigration system or shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. But it turns out Kerans is big into animal rights. And she points out &ndash; correctly &ndash; that Candidate Obama said he&rsquo;d support a ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption.</p><p>President Obama allowed it to continue.</p><p>&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t as upset as some of the other people who had voted for him. But it still kinda, like, broke your heart in a way. You know like, Oh God, you can&rsquo;t even keep that promise?&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And so, that leaves Kerans thinking about writing in Ron Paul &ndash; who&rsquo;s not on the ballot in Illinois&ndash; or voting for Republican Mitt Romney.</p><p>&ldquo;I have till November,&rdquo; Kerans said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t have to make up my mind today or a week from now. I have time.&rdquo;</p><p>Thirty-seven days, to be exact, until November Sixth.</p><p><em>This story has been updated to note Kerans&#39; correct age, which is 53.</em></p></p> Sun, 30 Sep 2012 15:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-elusive-undecided-voter-102766