Live

Watch CBSN Live

Undecided voters: What they want to hear in the presidential debate

The vast majority of voters have made up their mind about the presidential election, but tonight's debate caters specifically to those who haven't. The town hall-like format of the debate gives uncommitted voters in the audience, selected by Gallup, the chance to ask the candidates questions anything they want about domestic or foreign policy.

The format offers both risks and rewards for the candidates, in part because it's impossible to predict what your average uncommitted voter may have on his mind. For a hint of what may be in store, CBS News asked three uncommitted voters in battleground states what they want to hear in tonight's debate.  And we'll also follow up with these voters following the debate.

Lynn Zuercher, undecided voter from Arlington, Va. Lynn Zuercher

Lynn Zuercher, 63, Arlington, Va.: Cracking down on Wall Street; reversing the HHS mandate

"I'd like to hear about the banks, and I've heard very, very little conversation about the banking industry, the massive problems they've caused for the global economy, what kind of repercussions there are for them. People like [JPMorgan Chase President and CEO] Jamie Dimon seem to have the politicians in their pockets.

"It really distressed me to see how much power the financial sector and corporate America has over our policy. This is the other major issue -- the way corporate interests are controlling state governments. In the last presidential debate Mitt Romney numerous times kept saying, 'I think we need to turn this over to the states.' Very, very few people pay attention to state government, but the corporations are basically pulling the strings; they're basically funding whatever their agenda is. I'm very concerned about the influence they have, and we're talking all 50 states -- Pfizer, the Koch brothers, Exxon.

Dickerson: Candidates need to be aggressive without going over the top

"I don't hear the president or Mitt Romney addressing those issues at all. I know which way I am leaning in terms of the election, but it really worries me, the game the radical Republicans are playing. I'd like to see the president go much more on the attack on that.

"Another issue I'd like to hear the president address is the [Health and Human Services] mandate" requiring most employers to offer health insurance plans that cover the cost of birth control.

"Isn't there another way for American women to obtain contraception other than through a religious employer? I'm really upset about that. This is an issue that affects our First Amendment rights.

"It seemed to me that the president was doing it to garner female votes, and as a woman, that bothers me. I've used contraception even though I'm a Catholic, and I understand the inequities of women having to pay for that. At the same time, I work at Georgetown University Hospital, and I would never expect them to offer a health plan to me that includes contraception. It goes totally against the philosophy, and I don't think it's right for the federal government to do that."

Leland Hix, undecided voter from Eau Claire, Wis. Leland Hix

Leland Hix, 62, just outside of Eau Claire, Wis.: Controlling the deficit and debt; Supreme Court nominees

"I'd like to hear either or both of them tell me how they're going to raise taxes on everybody and cut entitlements because that's what's going to have to happen to lower the deficit.

"I find both of them to be pandering to the bases -- both political parties are just trying to put their agenda first and not really look at what's best for the country. That's why I'm undecided -- both candidates are at the fringes of their parties.

"I think the economy would solve itself if we could get the deficit under control and bring back the manufacturing jobs which have gone overseas. Right now both parties are just pandering to big business.

"I'm not optimistic it's going to be solved. Supposedly when [Congress] put together the budget plan -- the sequestration -- they threw the kitchen sink in and said, 'we'll fix it later.' Well, we're at the election, they haven't fixed it. Both parties took a polarized stance, and I don't see how that is going to change after this election. I'm not optimistic it's going to be solved. The best thing that can happen is the Bush tax cuts expire, and you've got to start cutting spending.

"No moderates can make it through the primary elections, and to make matters even worse, you've got the Supreme Court with this Citizens United ruling -- Obama says we need a constitutional amendment [to reverse that]. The one reason I would vote for Obama right now is so we could get a more progressive Supreme Court. And I think it's pitiful I should feel that way.

"We've got to get rid of these super PACs. Do we really want someone buying the election? There are too many people who look at ads, and that's what shapes their opinion."

Linnea Eckhardt, 72, Denver, Colo.: Fighting Mexican cartels, health care

"Foreign policy, that's what I want to hear about. I read the Treasury Department is going after MS-13, wherever they're putting their money, so I thought that was good news. I'm really anxious to see that in the debate.

"I am very interested to see what they were going to do with the Mexican cartels and all the crime and how it's spilling over here. We live in the northern part of Denver. We're considered a poorer neighborhood, mostly Hispanic, and we see a lot of the results. I have great-granddaughters whose father is in Mexico City, and they would like to see their dad, but the crime rate is so bad they're afraid to let them see their father.

"I voted for Obama in 2008. On some things I think he's tried really hard... but I'm not satisfied with the foreign policy, especially with all that stuff going on in the Middle East and Afghanistan. I just don't see any sense to some of it -- and why they let that happen to the embassy in Libya when they had asked for help and they weren't given the help.

"I also wouldn't mind hearing a little more detail about how they feel about health insurance and Social Security, both of those issues. The first debate made Mitt Romney look a little bit better than he had at first. He seemed a little more self assured and more like a leader, but I'm still questioning some of his policies. Some of his policies didn't quite make sense to me. If he doesn't make more sense to me, I would definitely consider Obama, depending on how his foreign policies come out.

"On health care, I didn't quite understand exactly what Romney was going to be doing. It sounded like he wanted to eliminate everything Obama had done, and what he would replace it with, I wasn't sure. It left me thinking maybe they didn't want people fully understanding what they had in mind. I still have a little time to study."