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29 October 2008
John McCain's last hope - the low information voters
Most American states now allow voters to cast their ballots before the official voting day and Obama is leading McCain by 53% to 34% amongst those early voters, according to the Pew Research Centre. Does that mean that it is all done and dusted? No, it doesn't, and to understand why we need to get to grips with the phenomenon of the low-information voter or LIV.

The LIVs are the 60% of the electorate who may vote every four years, but other than that take no interest in politics. They don't watch television news or read newspapers. They get their information from conversations with people whom they trust or, increasingly, via e-mails that arrive in their in-boxes and whose content they broadly agree with in the first place.

Crucially, this 60% of the electorate - and that is over a 100 million Americans - are also the ones most likely to refuse to respond to the opinion pollsters who ring them up. According to this Newsweek account, fully 90% of the population actually come into that category at the moment, so an awful lot of weighting of opinions is going on. This writer suspects that the concept of weighting with such a low sample actually means taking the best guess.

The Republicans will start trying to get these LIVs out later on in the week. They know that the early voters are the committed voters, whereas their strength lies with the people who are not political anoraks, or who fall into the category of low-information voters.

It is not over yet by any means.



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