Oh, Those Undecideds…

The final CNN/WMUR polls states that 31% of New Hampshire Republicans have not yet decided for whom they will vote today (and only 46% have “definitely decided.”  As such, if there are “surprises” tonight it won’t be because the polling failed, it will be because you can’t measure opinions that don’t exist when the questions are asked.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    I Heard someone say yesterday that people in NH go to bed supporting one candidate and wake up Tuesday morning supporting another and then they may change their minds again on the way to the polls.

  2. Franklin says:

    You gotta admit, though, it’s kind of hard to choose the least evil from this field.

  3. CSK says:

    I believe that there are some people who dither all the way to the polls. I also believe that there are more people–particularly in New England–for whom the response of “I haven’t decided yet” to a pollster is a polite way of saying “none of your f%$*ing business.”

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    @CSK: I for one just hang up on pollsters..

  5. CSK says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    When I had a landline, I’d say “no, thanks” and end the call. I’m sure that’s true of a lot of us. And cell phones have changed the dynamic considerably, I should think.

  6. @CSK: There is clearly a lot of that. Also a lot of wanting to sound like “I am keeping an open mind” when it is quite likely they have a strong preference.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Kind of like “independent voters” that way.

  8. @gVOR08: There is that, yes.

    I also think that given the carnival/retail politics nature of NH there is culture of “I shouldn’t decide while the campaigning is going on”/”I am going to wait and hear all the candidates”–whether people actually behave that way in their own heads, I do not know.

    Bottom line: if they won’t tell pollsters their preferences, then there is room for differentials between polling and voting.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ron Beasley: Not me, I do whatever I can to mess with their minds to the max. Hey, it’s something to do.

  10. Dave Schuler says:

    My guess is that a lot of those undecideds are embarrassed to tell people they plan to vote for Trump.

  11. @Dave Schuler: Except that this is not a new phenomenon, if memory serves.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    @CSK: There is clearly a lot of that. Also a lot of wanting to sound like “I am keeping an open mind” when it is quite likely they have a strong preference.

    I’ve always thought that.
    People lie to pollsters in order to portray themselves ‘independent’ or ‘open-minded,’ and I’m not buying it at all.

  13. Pete S says:

    @al-Ameda: I am with Ozarkhillbilly. I lie to pollsters to mess with their data, not because I care at all how I portray myself.

  14. Jen says:

    There’s also the element that people want their vote to matter or make a difference in the outcome. This would be bad news for both the Sanders and Trump campaigns, as it amounts to “eh, Bernie (or Trump) doesn’t need my vote, I’ll pull a Republican (or Democrat) ballot and make a difference there.”