- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

LOS ANGELES Al Gore has received no bounce from the Democratic National Convention so far, according to the latest tracking poll results released Thursday.

The poll was taken prior to Mr. Gore's acceptance speech last night.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush now has a 10-point lead over his Democratic rival, 50 percent to 40 percent, according to the Voter.com Battleground poll of 1,000 likely voters. The same survey put Mr. Bush's lead at 7 points on Tuesday and 8 points on Wednesday.

The Democrats "probably at best can end up the week where they started," said Republican pollster Ed Goeas, one of two pollsters involved in the tracking poll. Mr. Goeas attributes Mr. Gore's lower ratings to a drop-off in support from conservative Democrats throughout the week.

Throughout the four days of the Republican convention, Mr. Bush went from a 9-point lead to a 14-point lead.

One critical problem for Democrats will be winning the support of white married women with children. More than two-thirds say they will vote for Mr. Bush.

President Clinton won this group the so-called "soccer moms" in 1992 and 1996, but they tend to be swing voters. Currently, Mr. Bush has a 42-point lead over Mr. Gore among these women, a margin that has increased steadily since the Republican convention.

"Bush remains stronger with women than most Republicans have ever been," said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who also conducted the tracking poll. "That has continued to increase throughout the convention and is clearly one of the most sobering pieces of data for Democrats."

Mr. Goeas cites two factors as attracting white married moms to the Republican candidate: dislike of the marriage-penalty tax, which Mr. Bush has vowed to eliminate, and the perception that "Republicans are dominant on education and moral values."

Miss Lake agrees that the Republican values message "hits married women well." Unmarried women, on the other hand, "believe in the role of government," she said, and therefore usually vote Democratic. Mr. Gore currently has a 15-point lead over Mr. Bush among white single women.

The good news for the Democrats is an increase in support this week for Mr. Gore from independent voters. This key voting group continues to prefer Mr. Bush to Mr. Gore, 44 percent to 33 percent, but this lead is half of what it was at the end of the Republican convention in early August. Support for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader has dropped during the week, allowing Democrats to pick up some of these votes.

Independents "are so much more favorable toward Gore than toward Bush that I think in the end you'll see them consolidate," said Miss Lake. "Many of these voters are not prepared to move until they've seen Al Gore up close and in person."

The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.

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