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Undecided voters swayed by debates, especially the first

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | 5:39 p.m. CST; updated 1:13 p.m. CST, Monday, November 12, 2012

COLUMBIA — Voters who were undecided on the presidential election in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's election made up their minds and shared their choices with the Missourian Wednesday.

Adam Olson, an MU freshman who was leaning toward voting for Barack Obama, went ahead and voted for the incumbent in his first time casting a ballot for president.

Olson made up his mind shortly after the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 because he preferred Obama's education plan to Romney's, he said. He would not have been too disappointed, however, if Romney had won.

"Romney would have been good as president. He just had some things I did not like," Olson said, pointing to Romney's vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act. "It would have just been counterproductive."

Deb Wende, a 54-year-old Columbia resident, also made up her mind around the time of the first debate, she said.

"I voted for Romney," Wende said, adding that she was disappointed with Obama's first four years in office.

"I wanted the change," she said. "I didn't see what Obama was doing that was going to change the next four years. So I thought, 'Throw a new body in like Romney, and it would be the start of something better.' "

After it became evident that Obama would win re-election, she said her reaction was, "Oh no, four more years of Obama."

Kyle Buck, 22, who is a senior at MU from Kansas City and voted absentee, said he made up his mind when he had the absentee ballot in his hands. He voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president.

"I decided that I really didn't fully like Obama or Romney," Buck said. "And I decided that if it's a situation between two evils, why pick evil?"

He added that if he'd had a choice between just Obama and Romney, he would have voted for Obama because of his stances on social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion. 

"Obama was a lot more open, but I still didn't like him enough to want to vote for him," he said. "I think had I voted for Obama, it would not have been a vote for Obama but a vote against Mitt Romney."

When he found out Obama won, he said his reaction was neutral.

"I don't expect much is going to change," he said. "I think the U.S. is going to be just fine."

Olson, the MU freshman, said he was surprised by the reaction he saw from many of his Romney-supporting friends. 

"A lot of my friends were very, very upset. Outraged," Olson said. "It's surprising. The past four years weren't that bad. But the next four years, those are the ones that count."


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