Thursday, October 16, 2008

PANEL OF UNDECIDED VOTERS - Votes are in: 3 favor McCain, 2 for Obama

the Chronicle's five-member panel of "undecided voters" has disbanded. The five Houstonians have chosen their candidates: three for Sen. John McCain, two for Sen. Barrack Obama.

Whether this political microcosm will accurately predict the behavior of millions of undecided voters nationally on Nov. 4 remains to be seen.

The panelists threw themselves into zesty discussions spanning two convention speeches, two presidential debates and the much-scrutinized vice-presidential debate.
When recruited in August, the five panelists expressed similar reasons for being undecided at that point.

Some who usually voted Republican said they were so disgusted with the Bush administration that they were seriously considering giving the Democrats a shot at the White House. But they needed to learn more about Obama. Or, if they were going to vote for McCain, they needed reassurance that he was different enough from President Bush.

Torre LoDolce and Amy Warfield chose McCain, praising his bipartisan reputation in Congress and saying they had become convinced that he was different enough from Bush.

LoDolce also cited Obama's "flip-flopping" on tax policies and offshore drilling. Warfield liked McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, seeing her as an independent outsider who also is knowledgeable on energy issues.

Kelly Miller, who remained undecided until this week, said she is "heavily leaning" toward McCain as well. She said the recent economic turmoil makes her "more comfortable" with a conservative in the White House, balancing out a Democratic-controlled Congress. She blamed the Democrats for encouraging the extension of mortgages to lower-income people who couldn't afford them — a move that may have helped trigger the credit meltdown.

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