The Mythical “Undecided Voter”


Anton Johnson

Aliens, Bigfoot, undecided voters.What is more mysterious? Graphic by Anton Johnson/The Gateway.

It’s hard to imagine this presidential election being a tough decision for anybody who cared enough to vote.

A poll by Morning Consult found that only 3% of likely voters were undecided less than two weeks before the election. At the same time in 2016, 11% percent of voters were undecided.

Trump won those voters in 2016, but in 2020 he wasn’t able to make the same last minute appeal. Because of the popularity of early voting, more people were forced to make a decision sooner.

The United States is more politically polarized than most other countries, with the overwhelming majority of both parties believing that the opposing candidate would cause lasting damage to the country.

Trump’s controversial presidency and the pandemic have only made the electorate more divided since the contentious 2016 election. The decision has never been clearer for Americans on either side of the aisle.

So who were the holdouts? Vox’s Emily Stewart interviewed several undecided voters before the election. Some were conservatives disillusioned with Trump’s personality, and others were progressives considering to vote third-party instead of for Biden. Many simply hadn’t seen voting as important until this year, likely thanks to successful push to increase turnout.

Like the thousands of “Biden-Bacon” voters in Nebraska, many apprehensive moderate or conservative voters ended up splitting their ticket between the Democratic nominee for president and Republicans down ballot.

Progressive voters largely did end up voting for Biden, especially younger voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders likely contributed to the president-elect’s success among young progressives by endorsing him soon after ending his own campaign.

Third party candidates like the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins and Kanye West failed to appeal to undecided voters significantly. The Libertarian nominee, Jo Jorgensen, had more success, which may have ended up helping Biden by “drawing” votes away from Trump. Although that’s assuming that Libertarian voters would have turned out for Trump if Jorgensen had not ran, which is not clear.

It seems that many undecided voters struggled with choosing between two candidates they disapproved of. But there has only been anecdotal evidence of the mysterious and mythical voter who liked both Biden and Trump. Whoever and wherever that voter is, their contradictory worldview could be all it takes to unite the country in anger and confusion.