Bratty and Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster, have extensively surveyed a group they call “Wal-Mart moms,” part of a clever campaign by the retail giant to associate itself with this year’s ultimate swing voter, similar to the oft-cited NASCAR dads of 2004, the soccer moms of 1996 or the hockey moms of 2008. The retailer has avoided getting too specific in terms of race, educational attainment, or geographic area — it defines the women as mothers who are registered to vote, have at least one child under 18 at home, and have shopped at Wal-Mart in the last month — but the group tracks closely with suburban, noncollege whites.

“Across socio-economic statuses, these moms are pressed for time and just trying to make it through the day,” Omero says. That “makes them put politics and concern about politics on the back burner.”

Consumer data backs up that sentiment. Wal-Mart moms are three times more likely than the average American to be interested in family or animated movies, dogs, and products like ketchup, frozen vegetables, and air fresheners, according to data collected by the consumer research firm Lotame. That indicates the women are the ones shopping for their families and are interested in saving pennies wherever they can. They are more interested in information on cruises, too, suggesting they’re eager to get away when their economic situation improves…

To counter those impressions, pollsters say these swing voters will look to two specific surrogates: the candidates’ wives. Wal-Mart moms view first lady Michelle Obama in an overwhelmingly positive light. Voters in recent focus groups have pointed to her healthy-living initiatives, and they see her as a role model. They know less about Ann Romney, but her potential to humanize her husband and her own struggle overcoming disease could be a powerful tool the campaign can use. “Having Ann Romney speak to these moms is going to be important for the Romney campaign,” Omero said.