“You didn’t listen to the interview with the man and his wife. They had some hard times,” Pam tells him.
Bill says he’d like to see a “more middle-of-the-roadish” president. He says of President Obama, “He hasn’t done a great job, but he hasn’t totally flubbed everything either.”
Voters here tend to be relatively reserved in their political discourse by modern standards, with “flubbed” being a typical f-word. Some won’t talk politics at all. Ask their opinion and they shake their heads as though a response would be unseemly.
This is shaping up to be another close presidential election that will be decided in part by the mysterious calculations of swing voters in places such as Wisconsin. These voters are what strategists refer to as the “persuadables.” About 10 to 15 percent of Badger State voters have no strong allegiance to the major political parties and are truly up for grabs, said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette University Law School Poll.
The Wisconsin persuadables, on average, “are younger, less ideological, less partisan, pay less attention to politics,” he said.
Interviews in the state bear that out: It’s easy to find undecided voters who remain in play, are hard to peg as liberal or conservative, and seem to be ready to go on gut instinct if necessary when they mark their ballots. Which brings up another fact about Wisconsin: Wisconsinites vote in droves. They believe in being good citizens. In 2008, more than 72 percent cast a presidential ballot, a turnout second only to Minnesota’s.
“I’m one of those swing voters, you know? And if I don’t like a politician, I don’t like him,” said Jeff Benske, who owns the Top Shelf Guitar Shop in Milwaukee.
The state has an abundance of “Bush-Obama voters,” who supported Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and then voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008.
No other state has as many Bush-Obama counties, as graphically detailed by the Web site BushObamaAmerica.com. Some states, such as Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, have zero. Florida, the biggest swing state, has one. Same with Missouri. But the Upper Midwest is blistered with Bush-Obama counties, and Wisconsin is covered with them, particularly near Green Bay and the Fox River Valley.
A typical Bush-Obama persuadable is Mary Shultis, 65, who works at the Door County Confectionery in Sturgeon Bay, a vacation town northeast of Green Bay. Taking a break from making caramel apples, she went over her history as a voter: Richard M. Nixon in ’72, Jimmy Carter in ’76, Ronald Reagan in ’80 and ’84, George H.W. Bush in ’88, Bill Clinton in ’92 and ’96, George W. Bush in 2000 and ’04, and Obama in ’08.