The Undecided Voter
Well actually, I do have a reason. I'm out here with STOMP, the National Republican Congressional Committee's program to send Capitol Hill staffers out to important races throughout the nation. Here in Buffalo, I'm helping out Nancy Naples in NY's 27th congressional district. She seems like a good lady with a real desire to help out the folks in her area. Of course, she's going to have a tough time here as a Republican. Her district has a 2-to-1 democrat registration advantage and her opponent is well financed. You know it's going to be a tough race when in your campaign lit and ads, you refuse to mention that you're a republican. Emphasizing the use of words like "independent" and "free-thinker" is more like Naples campaign style (and probably a necessity).
What's interesting about things up here is how real life is. You know all the talk about job loss and outsourcing. Well, welcome to Cheektowaga NY, a small suburb outside of Buffalo. It's defintiely a tougher town then synthetic Orlando. You know that when you talk with someone here on job loss, you're not talking with a politically savvy Democrat seeking to gain cheap shots and percentages of polling poitns. But you're talking with someone who has lost his or her job within the last year and is having some real trouble finding honest work without moving out of the area. The air is cold, the streets are old, the shops are in need of repair, and the average age of a city dweller is well beyond middle-aged crisis. Hell, the city itself is well beyond a middle aged-crisis. That may explain why the bars around here close at 4am (instead of 2)... as our taxi driver mentioned to us, it's a heavy-drinking town.
We've spent the last few days precinct walking for Naples here in Cheektowaga, the swing district of Buffalo. We've had moderate success, but what's even more interesting is the profile of the normal resident. Here you'll find the true undecided voter: Someone who loves his country and loves his President, whoever he is. He wants to be proud of his home and wants leaders to be proud of, as well. He doesn't hate Bush and is glad that he can trust him, but he also has fond memories of life under President Clinton.
He knows that the world is quite dangerous, especially with his relatively close proximity to the attacks on 9-11, and he wants his leaders to take real action on protecting us. He knows that Iraq is not a mission to save suffering people and he knows that the WMD argument is a bust. But he also knows that we haven't been attacked since 9-11 and the thought of taking the fight to the terrorists instead of them attacking us makes complete sense to him. He wants us to win in Iraq and then to bring his boys home as heroes.
He wants real work and he wants to be self-sufficient. He hates the overboard tax system of NY state and he hates the loss of jobs he has seen around the area. He knows that John Kerry is promising some good things with healthcare and job creation, but he just can't trust Kerry as a leader. He doesn't think of Kerry as someone of the people and Bush, while also disconnected by class standards, seems to be someone who he can share a beer with.
In the end, these undecideds are going to vote, and they're probably going to vote for Kerry. After all, that's the historical trend in Presidental races in which an incumbent is pitted against a challenger (90% go against the incumbent). But in the end, these undecideds (and believe me, there are very few of them these days) have a generally defeatist mindset when it comes to this election. They're not sure who they can really trust and they know things may get worse before they get better. Their only hope is that, after the election is finally decided (whenever that is), our President and our nation can move on and get some real work done. They've been clobbered with negative ads out the wazhoo and they're just ready for it to be over. I can honestly say that I'm there with them. Let's get this thing over with already.