I should have posted this yesterday, but Angie mentioned that she felt guilty for having voted when she wasn't as informed as she thought she should have been. Here's the thing: if you're unsure, you still should vote. And I'll expalin why.
I don't have the statistics at hand, but campaign managers and consultants spend hours crunching the numbers--it's what they get paid for. And I've heard this from a variety of sources to know that this strategy DOES have an effect. For the most part, it relates to measures, bonds, taxes, and propositions, but there's a mild effect on individual candidates too. For Yes vs. No ballot measures, which need a certain percentage to pass, campaigns often try to influence voters who are unsure on any measure not to cast a vote at all. Let me explain why that helps a measure pass, and then explain why it trickles over to candidates.
Assume you are campaigning for a measure, one which needs a simple majority to pass (50% of the vote plus one vote). Assume that you've got a good group of volunteers who are going to vote yes for it. Assume though that it looks as if the measure might not quite make it to the simple majority. One very slimy tactic is to get your Get Out the Vote callers to push the Yes voters to get to the polls, to essentially hang up on any vociferous No voters, and then, for the undecideds who really don't seem as if they are going to vote for the measure, you ask them simply not to vote at all on the measure.
"Please, Mr. Smith. Please go to the polls and vote. However, if you feel as if you still do not have enough information on any item, it may be better if you would simply withold your vote. I'm not calling you to change your mind on any item. I'm simply encouraging you to vote."
Here's the theory: If 100 people vote NO on a measure, then the pro-side needs to get 101 people to vote YES. Most people who do not understand the implications of any ballot mesure will default to voting against it. So if you can knock out a few "I'm undecided so I'm going to vote NO" votes, then your 101 dedicated YES voters have a greater chance of swinging the election in a smaller pool of voters.
Personally, I don't like this tactic, and whenever I've set up GOTV banks, I've specifically requested that callers don't do this. There's a former friend in town who disagrees with me. I found out last year that he had called the GOTV volunteers the night before I was to train them to ask them to encourage people not to vote.
OK, so this also trickles over into indivdual candidate races. You can't really vote against a single candidate, especially when there are four others on the ballot. However, a YES vote is an active decision. People who take action are generally decided. So if you vote for a candidate, generally, but not always, you were ready to go to the polls and support your guy.
If undecideds stay away, then the races default to which ever campaign is better organized to get their voters to the polls. It has nothing, absolutely NOTHING, to do with platforms, ideas, or priorities. The entire race simply comes down to who has more money and who has better organized volutneers. I've worked with campaign managers, I've run a campaign, and I respect these individuals. However, I don't think that who sits in the lawmaker's chair should be decided entirely by them. Because a lot of them are stubborn pricks as well.
So. To sum up. If you vote YES on an item, in general you are an active, decided voter. People who feel less informed on any topic generally vote against it. (I do that on the School Board too--it's the safer route in the long run.) Since the voting majority in most minor elections are undecided, the people who would like to get any particular measure passed hope and pray that the undecideds stay away.
If you stay away from the polls, then there's a much, much smaller group of people actually voting. The smaller the group, the easier it is to influence, and the more likely it is that they are either rabid "pinko commie lefties" or rabid "redstate wignuts". The extremes should not decide who gets into office. Just go vote. It will be OK.