More on Undecided Voters from Our Pros

Connie Chung

  • “The voice of the undecided voter has been critical in this election for months because polls have shown the race was so tightBut Trump’s comments about women on an “Access Hollywood” bus, released this past weekend, caused many undecided voters to make up their minds.”
  • “Now, polls are showing Clinton with as much as a 10/11 percentage point lead over Trump.  Therefore, determining what the undecided voter is thinking is slightly less important.”
  • “Overall, it is extremely difficult for the media to accurately report what the undecided voter is thinking or going to do.”
  • “Polls are often unreliable because people change their minds and don’t tell the truth.”
  • “I think print can do a slightly better job reporting the pulse beat of the undecided voter.  Print reporters can call dozens of voters on the telephone and quote as many as two dozen voters in one story.  However, print must put it’s results on line.  Reading such reporting in a newspapers is too late.”
  • “I believe the network newscasts are an antiquated part of the media world.  There is little that the networks can do to become relevant.  News is occurring all day long and changes rapidly.  The internet and cable are keeping up with all the latest developments but the networks have newscasts on—only at specific times of the day—rendering the network newscasts quickly stale when they do air.”
  • “If the networks commission polls of undecided voters—that may be valuable.  But polls take time and news breaks after polls are conducted.  Polls can also be misleading.”
  • “On the 2nd debate night, CNN conducted an instant poll—but acknowledged, from the outset of reporting the poll results, that the poll of debate watchers skewed Democratic.  So it appeared to be tainted—not necessarily a reliable sampling of all viewers.”
  • “Perhaps the network newscasts could devote a separate story to “undecided voters,” it would be enlightening.  But doing such a story would not be commissioned today, now that the Clinton appears to have a decent lead over Trump.”

Matthew Storin

  • “I think this issue has to be seen in the context of network television news.  They try to squeeze into 22 minutes the news of the day, as they see it.”
  • “Cable news, online news operations, and newspapers can do it much better. I think polls are actually the most effective way to handle the issue (polls that go in depth), but you’ll always want a few pics, a few quotes or sound bites.”
  • “For the networks per se, I think they could follow up on something like this segment with one or two sentences on the demographics of undecided voters, or their party affiliations (or non-affiliations). But they just are not equipped, given their formats, to do it well.”

Jim Warren

  • “You can get close. Rigorous focus groups—think of those done by a Peter Hart, a true bigtime pollster of many decades standing, as opposed to the on-air theatrics of a Frank Luntz (for Fox News).”
  • “Going the Hart route, and showing as much empirical rigor as one can, will help to far better understand that target group, but in an incredibly fluid race as this has been (primaries and general election), there’s no fail-safe methodology. But, again, you can come fairly close by just being, again, very rigorous.”

Vivian Schiller

  • “‘Undecided voters’ has taken on a whole new meaning in this election cycle which I don’t think the networks have adequately reflected. In the past — undecided voters were truly weighing a choice between two candidates with strengths and weakness.”
  • “In that context, it’s reasonable to convene panels of undecided [voters] on air and query their changing views.”
  • “However the networks have not reflected their reality. They are using the same means rather than really question what ‘undecided’ means today. Those segments are useless as is.”