Undecided voters still left with questions after debate

Friday October 5, 2012

DENVER -- A group of undecided voters who gathered at The Denver Post to watch Wednesday's debate came away mostly still on the fence about who to support Nov. 6.

"It's about: Do you want a better world or do you want a better job?" said Kyle Miller, a 30-year-old investment banker from Greenwood Village, who after the debate said he was still undecided. "I am looking forward to the next debate."

Colorado, with nine electoral votes, is seen as a swing state mostly because its electorate is neatly divided between Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

National experts estimate 7 percent of voters are truly undecided between the widely differing politicians running for the White House. Those who agreed to watch the debate at The Post were a cross-section -- ages ranging from early 20s to mid-60s and hailing from throughout the metro region. Some were unemployed, others were underemployed.

There was a teacher, a financial adviser and a couple of students. Most were unaffiliated voters, and almost everyone was simply dissatisfied with the choice between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

"I don't like either one of them," said Lynne Mark from Centennial before the debate.

As the candidates sparred on television, the Post's spectators punched a hand-held device that registered whether they liked or disliked what each candidate was saying. Usually Obama had a higher score than Romney when he was talking.

Romney's score fell almost every time he began critiquing the president. But after the debate, many of the 15 said they thought Romney had a more successful debate. Some even walked away now convinced they were voting for the Republican.

"Romney was more relatable to the middle class," said Todd Eakes of Broomfield. "Obama, it felt like he was on the defensive. ... I'm leaning more toward Romney now, and I wasn't expecting that coming in."

Nick Miller of Westminster, who switched from being a Republican to unaffiliated in July, said Romney had more energy and that Obama wasn't seeing the difficulties that are hitting Americans now. He liked how Romney pointed out that increasing taxes on businesses would cost jobs.

Natalie Bui, 24, of Aurora, said she wasn't impressed.

"I don't think either of them said anything they haven't said before," she said. "They should have focused more on what they would do specifically in each situation. Romney kept saying he was going to cut costs, and I think it was bad that he couldn't say specifically what he would cut."

Jan Parchman-Grant, 47, of Parker, and a Republican, said it appeared that Obama struggled.

"But he had the misfortune of taking over a bad situation. ... Romney seemed more confident, but of course, since he's the challenger he could be more confident," she said. "I'm still not swayed either way."

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