Are You Undecided This Election? A No-Spin Guide

In this tight election cycle, undecided voters could push every race either way. Here's how to cut through the noise and decide for yourself where you stand.


On the cusp of my 40th birthday, here is how I came to realize that I am, in fact, old:

This past Thursday, I ordered pizza, grabbed a beer (Oktoberfest!) and sat down to watch the Republican National Convention (more Condoleeza Rice, please!). Not only was I excited to watch it (Clint Eastwood!), I had been looking forward to it all day long.

Not content to wait until the network news hour of 10 p.m., I flipped between cable channels in anticipation of the Grand Unveiling of Mitt Romney, Human Being.

It felt like a party as my husband and I sat on the couch and eagerly awaited Mr. Romney’s official acceptance of the nomination for president from the political party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

We weren’t disappointed, although we felt sad at how Mr. Eastwood demonstrated his age through his sometimes-funny but often-rambling extemporaneous comments. The personal testimonials from the friends and colleagues of Mr. Romney, who noted his reserved, generous and humble nature again and again, made us proud that he hadn’t trumpeted these accomplishments himself.

(Of course, I guess that wouldn’t make him very humble or reserved.)

Even though my libertarian nature is often at odds with the “official” platform of the Republican Party, I felt so proud that these accomplished speakers spoke to my own values so personally. Regardless of your politics, the Romneys and the Pauls and are fine American families who demonstrate clearly what happens when hard work and strong beliefs meet in the greatest country in the world.

As is our habit, following the Convention we switched channels to watch liberal-leaning commenters to see what they had to say. It was a fait accompli that Fox News would praise the Convention adoringly, but we already knew what we thought — why waste time hearing it repeated?

So, we turned the boob tube over to MSNBC and CNN.

Predictably, MSNBC’s hosts enjoyed their evening’s red state meat. CNN did a marginally better job toeing the line. And even The New York Times printed a nice photo in Friday’s edition of the newly-minted Republican ticket, smiling and waving to the Tampa crowds — a nice contrast from the photo they ran earlier in the week, which showed Paul Ryan’s head floating against a blood-red backdrop filled with forbidding-looking, darkened figures.

As we drifted off to sleep, it occurred to me how dangerous it is to only get your news from one source. 

Prior to this week’s Democratic National Convention — which I will also watch with great interest — most national polls indicate a very tight race. Apparently, very few voters remain undecided. Right now, Mr. Romney holds a slight lead, but the race is really too close to call.

My deepest wish for these undecided voters is that they secure their news from a variety of sources. If this describes you, don’t only watch MSNBC or Fox. When you read a Times editorial, follow it up with one from The Wall Street Journal. When you’re finished reading CNN.com, click over to the Drudge Report. And don’t forget that the Associated Press and Reuters operate independent news sites, too.

When candidates make pointed and outlandish claims or accusations, check the facts for yourself from FactCheck.org or OnTheIssues.org. Are you a Republican? Make the Democratic convention must-see-TV, at least to gain a little more perspective as to why they appeal to so many reasonable voters.

Even voting records and "facts" conceal. Yes, Paul Ryan voted against a recent balanced budget bill, but that was because it lacked spending limits and stood little chance of ratification. And yeah, Mitt Romney inherited a lot of money — but he gave it away to charity, in addition to millions more, because giving is a key part of who he is.

Question everything, because politics is built on lobbyists, money, soundbites and headline journalism. There has never been nor will there ever be a perfect-fit candidate from either party as long as we are human beings. You’re going to have to compromise somewhere, so figure out where our candidates stand on the issues you care most about.

The point is, dig a little deeper. Learn, decide and vote.

joe_m September 05, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Another nice post Lisa. I hope most voters take the time to get informed. What bothers me the ability of some to stuff ballot boxes with votes, changing the election results.: But what about the vote of an illegal alien? The deceased? Or a convicted felon? Should they be allowed to spoil the electoral process — and perhaps change history? In the close governor’s race in Connecticut in 2010, a mysterious shortage of ballots in Bridgeport kept the polls open an extra two hours as allegedly blank ballots were photocopied and handed out in the heavily Democratic city. Dannel Malloy defeated Republican Tom Foley by nearly 7,000 votes statewide — but by almost 14,000 votes in Bridgeport. Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/yes_vote_fraud_real_B5KsHFqcgUjYJCivnI6IuN#ixzz25b1Gekqr They will be very active in this years presidential election.
Lisa Bigelow September 05, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Thanks, Joe. That race was disappointing, but what I really don't get about vote fraud is the refusal of Democrats to accept that showing identification before voting should be law. It's just common sense. Lisa B.
Barbara Packer September 05, 2012 at 05:37 PM
We do show identification to vote in CT. There is no problem. The problem is the timing of imposing this requirement on people in states that have never required it before. It is also the way that it is being implemented and the intention to use it to disenfranchise some people. If you are not a citizen, you cannot vote. There is no evidence of massive voter fraud. Ballot Boxes are not being stuffed, by anyone. I believe that eventually, with a fair and honest plan, voter and other identification will become law. The way that this is done and the implications are important to the future of our democracy.
Lisa Bigelow September 05, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Barbara, Thanks for reading and commenting. Although we do show ID in CT, that isn't the case everywhere. And I don't agree that evidence of voter fraud doesn't exist, as indicated by Joe's post above. Finally, this isn't a new issue -- Republicans have been complaining about this for years. If we don't pass a federal requirement now, then when? lisa
MAC September 05, 2012 at 06:52 PM
The Romneys and Ryans embody traditional American values, but beyond that--the stark differences in the values and Principles of the D & R parties are brilliantly highlighted by the obvious old-fashioned goodness and patriotism omnipresent at the GOP convention last week. That is in vivid contrast to DEM speaker (and HHS Sec.) K. Sebelius' comments about "motherhood as a liability" and womanhood as a "pre-existing condition." The DNC "abortion fest" is revealing, to Americans paying attention, exactly why "GOD" was taken out, this year, of the Democratic platform!! Shameful. In contrast, the GOP convention featured dozens of exciting speakers of all ethnicities, backgrounds, and superb accomplishments! Especially the women, such as governors Susana Martinez, Mary Fallin and Nikki Haley, Condoleezza Rice, Senator Kelly Ayotte, and congressional candidate Mia Love, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, and who graduated from the Univ. of Hartford and is now a mayor in Utah (as well as mother of 3 children)! Here is a link to her rousing and patriotic 5 min. speech last week, challenging Obama that "Mr. President, the American people are awake; and we're not buying what you are selling!": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfop5TeDnZo&feature=plcp http://www.youtube.com/user/gopconvention2012/videos (links to all other speeches and other events)


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