President Obama and Mitt Romney can talk all they like, but the voters who will decide this year's presidential election aren't listening yet. That's because prototypical key swing voters this year are far more concerned with guiding their families through the slow and grinding economic recovery than they are with presidential politics.
Those voters most likely to remain undecided about their presidential preference are taking on a distinct profile, according to pollsters on both sides of the aisle: They're suburban white women, between the ages of 35 and 55, who probably haven't attained a college degree and who have kids under the age of 18. They very likely voted Democratic in 2008, then turned around and voted Republican two years later — if they voted at all. And polling and consumer research shows their focus is on their own household rather than national events.
"The economy for them are those personal things they're dealing with every day," said Alex Bratty, a Republican pollster. "What they think about is the daily impact — paying for gas, their household budget, putting food on the table."
Bratty and Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster, have extensively surveyed a group they call "Wal-Mart moms," part of a clever campaign by the retail giant to associate itself with this year's ultimate swing voter, similar to the oft-cited NASCAR dads of 2004, the soccer moms of 1996 or the hockey moms of 2008. The retailer has avoided getting too specific in terms of race, educational attainment, or geographic area — it defines the women as mothers who are registered to vote, have at least one child under 18 at home, and have shopped at Wal-Mart in the last month — but the group tracks closely with suburban, noncollege whites.