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Many Staten Islanders Remain Undecided On The Presidential Race

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Staten Island is traditionally the most Republican of all the boroughs, but on the day before the presidential election, many residents said they were still unsure who they would be voting for. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

On a sunny day in Clove Lake Park about all anyone can talk about is the presidential election –though many say they are still unsure who they're going to vote for come Tuesday.

"To be honest with you, I'm still not sure what the right thing to do is," said resident Jodi D'Andrea.

"I'm leaning a little toward John McCain because Obama doesn't seem to have that much experience," said resident John Gorman. "McCain's been around. But I'm still thinking about it."

Staten Island has a reputation for being more conservative than the rest of the city. But the breakdown by party shows about 116,000 registered Democrats, compared to about 78,000 Republicans.

This year, more than 9,000 new voters registered as Democrats versus fewer than 4,000 as Republicans.

But that does not mean Democratic presidential candidates have a lock on the island.

In 2000, Al Gore won the island, nearly 74,000 votes to George W. Bush's 64,000. But in 2004, Staten Island gave George W. Bush substantially more votes than John Kerry, 90,325 to 68,448.

Registered Republican John McVey says many voters do not mind crossing party lines when it comes to presidential elections. He says he would like to vote for McCain – but simply cannot.

"This John McCain today is combative, uncommunicative," he said. "Just his body language in the two debates, in that he refused to turn around and shake the other candidates hand, it's not the same McCain."

In the 2004 election, about 60 percent of registered voters cast ballots – a figure College of Staten Island Political Science Professor Richard Flanagan says will at least be matched this year, because of issues that hit close to home.

"The first casualties of this economic crisis are the Wall Street firms, and some of these people on Staten Island work in the front office or back office of those places," said Flanagan. "So I think the national election has a profound meaning, especially on Staten Island."

Flanagan says he expects Staten Island to fall in line with the rest of the country, choosing Obama over McCain by about three points. Still, he says, there's a chance McCain could win the borough.

"I'm hearing from both congressional campaigns that it's a very positive McCain response," said Flanagan. "I mean, I wouldn't be shocked if McCain squeaks it out."

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