Undecided voters in Cicilline-Doherty race are a diverse group

The 1st Congressional District race looks headed for a photo finish: this week’s WPRI 12 poll shows Democrat David Cicilline at 43% and Republican Brendan Doherty at 42%, with 8% of voters still undecided.

So who are those 8%?

“With the undecided voters, there’s no one group where they’re from,” said WPRI 12 political analyst and pollster Joe Fleming after the two of us examined the data from our Oct. 24-27 survey of 300 likely voters. (The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 points, and larger for subgroups, so caveat emptor.)

One characteristic that does stick out: 11% of women are undecided, compared with only 6% of men. “That could be good for Cicilline because he’s winning that group,” Fleming said. On the other hand, by definition these are women who haven’t been convinced by the Democrat’s pitch so far.

Other than that, the undecideds are a highly heterogeneous group.

Between 8% and 9% of voters in each of the poll’s three age groups – young voters (18 to 39), middle-aged voters (40 to 59) and older voters (60 or older) – are undecided. The group includes 8% of independents, 8% of Democrats and 4% of Republicans.

These Rhode Islanders may be more hesitant than the average citizen to make up their minds: 18% of voters who haven’t decided between Obama and Romney for president also haven’t decided who to support for Congress, compared with only 9% Obama voters and just 4% of Romney voters.

Both side will be spending the final days of the campaign trying to present a message that pushes these voters in one direction or the other – and hope that, if the undecideds break heavily in one direction, they can make up for it with a solid ground game.

• Related: Poll: Cicilline clings to 1-point lead over Doherty (Oct. 30)

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