The cross-tabs of a new Economist/YouGov poll provides some insight into the undecideds in the Presidential election. The poll, taken this week, has Obama ahead 42-39 -- but the "not sure" respondents are obviously where the action is.
First thing to notice is that a much higher percentage of women than men say they are undecided, and they therefore make up two-thirds of the group. Given the huge edge Obama has among women voters, that figures to be a big, big edge for him.
Obama is seen favorably by 54 percent of those undecided voters, compared with 46 percent who have a favorable opinion of McCain. Only 13 percent of those undecideds see Obama as "very liberal." Only 16% say they dislike him, with 13 percent liking him "a lot" and 43% "somewhat.
Overall, various polls are showing Obama's favorability at the mid- to high-50s, which in my opinion is deadly for McCain. Voters are generally disposed to voting for the Democrat (or more accurately, against the Republican), so McCain really needs to make them wary of him. So far they don't.
Back to the new poll, the breakdown numbers for the "not sure" group look like they are awfully inclined toward Obama on the issues. For starters, a whopping 50% say that the economy is their most important issue for the election, with health care and Iraq tied well behind at 13 percent. These undecideds are even more down on the economy than the full survey sample: 52% say the economy is "poor," 34% "not so good," a mere 4% "good," and zero percent "excellent." On the classic "right track/wrong track" question, these voters are beyond gloomy: 1% right track, 77% wrong track, 22% unsure.
By a 61-14 margin they say it was a mistake to invade Iraq. By a 67-16 margin they approve of raising taxes on families earning over $200,000 a year. By a 45-27 margin they want universal health care coverage.
To my mind, this all confirms what I've been saying for some time, which is that for McCain to sway the undecideds, he needs to A) drive up Obama's negatives, and B) convince people that he will, to borrow a phrase from years past, focus like a laser on the economy. With an audience of 40 million last night, I don't think he did either one.