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Political Notebook

Undecided donors hedge bets in presidential race

Some of the less prominent undecided donors said they had been strategically bipartisan for different reasons. Above, a rally for President Obama in Roanoke, Va.

Jeanna Duerscherl/The Roanoke Times/AP

Some of the less prominent undecided donors said they had been strategically bipartisan for different reasons. Above, a rally for President Obama in Roanoke, Va.

NEW YORK — For one tiny sliver of swing voters, it is not enough to be wrestling with whether to vote for President Obama or Mitt Romney at a moment when nearly everyone else has long since decided. Their checkbooks, too, are wavering between the two candidates.

Meet the undecided donors. They are not lobbyists or other members of the political class — donors with a professional imperative to hedge their bets — but ordinary voters whose back-and-forth donations mirror the undulations of the swing electorate.

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“I’m all mixed up between being a conservative and a liberal,’’ said Kurt Schoeneman, a grape grower from Northern California. He said he found himself seized by waves of enthusiasm, first for one candidate and then for the other.

‘‘Some of these people, they just loathe Obama, and they’ll write something really nasty about him,’’ said Schoeneman, who has given checks to both candidates, most recently $100 to Romney in June and $100 to Obama in July. ‘‘And then something else will happen, and I’ll go give Romney some money.’’

Charles Y. Chen, a salesman in Virginia, gave Romney $100 on the day of his convention speech in August. In September, Chen donated to Obama every few days, $50 here, $55 there. Then he switched again, giving Romney $50.

‘‘I think the Republicans have better ideas on the economy and the Democrats have better ideas on social issues, immigration, and social justice,’’ Chen said.

‘‘Just like anything, both have something that they do great and something that they need to improve,’’ he said.

Lobbyists or contractors have always hedged political giving. Chief executives of large companies face similar imperatives. But some of the less prominent undecided donors said they had been strategically bipartisan for different reasons.

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