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For Romney and Obama, it all comes down to ‘the persuadables.’ Are you one?

Swaying the 6 percent of likely voters who haven't yet decided could determine the presidential election. Who's really left to convince in an election where the differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are so stark?

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In other key swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Obama still has a chance to make inroads with lower-income whites, especially as Romney has struggled to endear himself with what would otherwise be a natural Republican constituency. Democratic strategists say there’s huge interest in the campaign to court struggling white voters with a “clear economic juxtaposition” that highlights that they haven’t received their “fair share,” Politico’s Alexander Burns reported recently.

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This week, Romney tried to flank Obama on that front, not only by picking Ryan, who has Irish working class roots, but by appearing on Friday in front of an army of dusty coal miners in Ohio and the sign, “We stand with coal country!”

With the African-American and Hispanic votes largely sewn up, the Obama campaign likely sees suburban women as the most coveted prize, and will look to score points by painting the Republican duo as paternalistic white guys looking back instead of, as the Obama campaign slogan goes, “forward.”

But that doesn’t mean Romney is about to cede the soccer mom vote.

“I can see a little bit of potential for Romney to make some inroads there – not just suburban women, but people who for one reason or another had doubts about Sen. McCain and were taken in by the no-red state, no-blue state, purple-state malarkey,” Republican strategist Whit Ayers told Politico.

A Suffolk University survey of 800 likely nonvoters – the “other America,” as researchers termed them – suggested that 59 percent of the 80 million or so eligible voters who don’t vote are turned off by “broken promises” and “corruption.”

What’s doubtless is that if even a sliver of those “other Americans” can be convinced to shed some of their cynicism and apathy, they could decide the next president of the United States. For Obama, that’s a vexing reality as he tries to build enthusiasm for four more years.

Why vexing for Obama? Among those voters, 55 percent view Obama favorably versus 25 who view Romney in a favorable light, and more of those Obama supporters would head to the polls if they thought they could impact the outcome.

Obama may, in fact, have had some of those voters in mind as he left the White House press corps in the dust last week and turned to outlets like Entertainment Tonight to speak directly to Americans who may not be engaged in the election or the daily barrage of horse race news from the campaign trail. After he hung up with the New Mexico “Morning Mayhem” crew, host Kiki Garcia, at least, felt a new connection. “I just flirted with the President,” she giggled.

Unfortunately, some of the nonvoters who may have been listening in Albuquerque, according to the Suffolk survey, list “empty promises, a bad economy and negativity” as chief reasons for not voting.

“Obama just needs to unlock [that treasure chest] and get them out to vote,” says David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. But, he adds, “Obama has lost time – and the key – to open that treasure chest.”

IN PICTURES: on the campaign trail with President Barack Obama


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