DES MOINES — In an election in which candidates have surged and receded as waves of support come and go, one thing has remained near constant: the percentage of voters who have been undecided, or who have indicated that they could easily change th
DES MOINES — In an election in which candidates have surged and
receded as waves of support come and go, one thing has remained near
constant: the percentage of voters who have been undecided, or who
have indicated that they could easily change their minds on Tuesday at
the Iowa caucuses. According to recent polls, 41 percent of likely
Republican caucusgoers considered themselves undecided just days
before votes are to be counted.
The Republican Presidential Field
In Tight Race, G.O.P. in Iowa Hears Closing Arguments (January 3,
The Caucus: On Caucus Night, a Time Commitment (January 2, 2012)
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Daniel Acker for The New York Times
Rosie Moser, an undecided voter thinking of endorsing Michelle
Bachmann, listened to former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich,
in Independence, Iowa, on Monday.
To try to understand why so many voters are uncommitted, a reporter
talked to some Iowa Republicans as they made their choices — if,
indeed, they have made choices.
In the summer days leading up to the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, that
early, informal contest for presidential contenders, Jason Anderson
was “totally pumped up,” as he put it, for Tim Pawlenty, the former
governor of Minnesota who seemed to be a promising candidate for the
“He gave me such a good feeling that six or seven of my buddies, all
Tim fans, we drove out to the poll to root for him,” said Mr.
Anderson, 35, a father of two from Ankeny, Iowa, a small town north of
Des Moines. “It was like a rock concert, we were so excited.”
Mr. Anderson’s emotions were different the next day, when Mr.
Pawlenty, finishing in a disappointing third place, dropped out of the
“I felt it in a big way,” Mr. Anderson said.
His mood brightened again only when Herman Cain’s candidacy surged two
months later. In Mr. Cain’s business-minded philosophies, Mr.
Anderson, who works in the auto insurance industry, thought he had
found another good match. But when Mr. Cain suspended his campaign in
the face of escalating accusations of sexual misconduct in early
December, Mr. Anderson felt that sinking feeling again. Frustration
In an interview in mid-December, Mr. Anderson vented: “I hate wavering
back and forth. It’s been like a rollercoaster.”
But what was he to do? Mr. Anderson said he found Mitt Romney, the
former Massachusetts governor, “too fake.” Gov. Rick Perry of Texas
was “without a clue.” Representative Michele Bachmann did not seem to
know her facts, he said, and Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker,
smacked of old news.
It was not until Christmas, when a guest at a family gathering asked,
“Have you looked at Ron Paul?” that Mr. Anderson realized that he had
“I can’t explain why it hadn’t occurred to me, but the more I learned
about him, the more I liked Ron Paul,” he said. “Not everything, of
course, but you’re never going to find the perfect candidate. And this
is not just about jumping on a bandwagon, although I do want to back
someone who has a chance to win on Tuesday.”
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