Fear And The Undecided Voter

"For all the policy differences it revealed, the presidential debate last week also highlighted what has become a predominant theme in this presidential campaign: fear," the New York Times reports. "President Bush implied that Senator John Kerry's 'mixed message' on Iraq would only encourage the enemy. Mr. Kerry warned that Mr. Bush's 'certainty' could needlessly extend a bloody occupation.
Each side hopes that fear of a future shaped by the opposing candidate will help win over undecided voters. Yet psychologists who study the effect of emotion on voting behavior say that undecided voters are the least likely to respond to fear as a persuasion tactic. In fact, new research suggests that it is the politically informed partisan voter who is most susceptible to persuasion by fear and anxiety. Voters who are truly undecided, many political scientists argue, are not so much torn between the candidates as tuned out, and they do not feel strongly enough about issues to be swayed by threatening messages."