- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2000

George W. Bush, who says his policies aren't determined by the polls, nonetheless appears to be on the right track with independent "swing" voters, a new John Zogby poll finds.

"Independents revealed for first time that they have fundamental conservative values," Mr. Zogby said. "Independents in past had some liberal tendencies, but there have been some interesting shifts on issues, and abortion is one of them. It could be critical.

"On defense policy, which also could be an important issue, independents have moved to right which favors Bush," Mr. Zogby said.

Mr. Zogby's poll of independent voters showed that 72 percent favor investing at least a small part of their Social Security payroll taxes in private stocks or bonds a Bush plan that Mr. Gore once ridiculed.

With one exception his education policies the Texas governor is also on the right track with the 2,066 Republican National Convention delegates who will nominate him in two weeks, a poll by the American Conservative Union Foundation reveals.

By contrast, Vice President Al Gore appears to be on the wrong track with a vital Democratic voting constituency labor union members because of his support for international trade agreements opposed by most rank-and-file unionists, according to a second Zogby poll released exclusively to The Washington Times.

By an overwhelming 2-1 margin, union members said they regard Mr. Gore's views on trade issues as more important than his endorsement by the AFL-CIO.

Green Party candidate Ralph Nader is becoming a threat to Mr. Gore in several key states, and the Zogby poll suggests that Mr. Gore's choice of a Democratic vice presidential running mate could affect his chances with labor voters.

Respondents were asked if Mr. Gore picked a running mate who did not share union members' opposition to treaties such as NAFTA, would there be any circumstance under which they would support Mr. Nader. Nearly 71 percent said yes enough to cost Mr. Gore the presidential election in certain states where Mr. Nader is strong.

"It shows Nader could wind up with a third of labor's vote and lose the election for Gore," said Bradley S. O'Leary, president of Associated Television News, which commissions Mr. Zogby's "American Values" polling series. "It also shows the AFL-CIO's endorsement may not be as powerful as it once was, because workers know Gore and [President] Clinton are very cozy with international big business."

In the poll of independent voters, 12 percent said they have more conservative views on abortion than five or 10 years ago, while only 6 percent said their views have grown more liberal on abortion.

A large majority of delegates to next month's Republican National Convention oppose abortion.

A July 12-15 poll of nearly 400 (20 percent) of the 2,066 delegates who will attend the Republican convention found that 75 percent of them either oppose abortion in all cases or would permit it only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

"This is by far the most right-to-life [Republican National] convention in history," said Donald J. Devine, chairman of the 2000 Committee for a Conservative Platform, which sponsored the delegate survey.

A pro-choice Republican leader, however, took issue with Mr. Devine over the wording of the poll.

"I would have asked the delegates whether they think the present platform, with its statement calling for a constitutional amendment banning abortion and for the appointment of judges who agree with that, is good for the Republican Party," said Susan Cullman, co-chair of the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition.

Ms. Cullman's organization sponsored a poll in January that found that 55 percent of Republican voters preferred the issue be removed from the party platform or be reworded to acknowledge differing views on the subject.

Most delegates, 57 percent, would tolerate it only for rape, incest or to save the mother's life, and another 18.1 percent oppose abortion in all cases.

"So, by inference, we have a platform that represents 18.1 percent of the delegates because the platform permits no exceptions," said Ann Stone, chairman of Republicans for Choice.

Republican convention delegates are at odds with their candidate on education, where 80 percent want to get rid of the Education Department and 83 percent oppose national education accountability standards. Mr. Bush supports national standards and the Education Department.

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