- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

President Bush is pushing ahead of Sen. John Kerry in several states won by Al Gore in 2000, which puts the Democratic senator at a disadvantage in his presidential bid because he must commit resources to protect turf once considered his.

Mr. Bush holds leads in all but two of the 17 states identified by both campaigns as swing states in the Nov. 2 election, according to the latest polls, and in the four states that Mr. Gore took by less than two percentage points four years ago.

Democratic political consultant Donna Brazile, who ran Mr. Gore’s campaign, said there is little reason for the Kerry campaign to worry about this slate of numbers.

“Yes, Bush is leading Kerry in some battleground states that Gore won in 2000 by a hair or within the margin of difference,” Miss Brazile said. “But Kerry will rebound and nose his way back up.”

A Knight Ridder/MSNBC poll released this week shows Mr. Bush ahead of Mr. Kerry 48 percent to 42 percent in Iowa, 46 percent to 44 percent in Wisconsin, and 47 percent to 43 percent in New Mexico and Oregon.

A Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won Iowa, Wisconsin or Oregon since Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide 20 years ago, and hasn’t prevailed in New Mexico since 1988.

Mr. Bush also is 2 points ahead in Minnesota (46 percent to 44 percent), according to a Mason-Dixon poll released last week. Minnesota hasn’t gone Republican for president since 1972.

Mr. Kerry, in contrast, can boast just one poll where he is ahead in a state that Mr. Bush narrowly won in 2000. An American Research Group poll released Monday gives the Democrat a 1 percentage point lead in Florida, which the president won by just 537 votes four years ago.

But a Survey USA poll released last week gave Mr. Bush a six-point lead in Florida.

Some of the more solid Gore states that Mr. Kerry can still consider friendly to him are becoming less so. In Maine, which Mr. Bush visits today, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush are tied in a Zogby poll taken last week.

And in Pennsylvania, Mr. Kerry has a 47 percent to 46 percent lead in an American Research Group poll released this week, but a Quinnipiac poll taken released late last week gave Mr. Bush a four-point lead.

Maryland and New Jersey, states Mr. Gore won with 16- and 15-point routs, respectively, may be swing states. A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed the race tied in New Jersey. Another poll put Mr. Kerry up 8 percent, while a third gave Mr. Bush a four-point lead.

A Survey USA poll of likely voters in Maryland released this week also showed a tied race.

Republican political consultant Dan Schnur expects the race to tighten, but said Mr. Bush is in a much stronger position than his challenger with just six weeks to go before the election.

“This makes life much harder for John Kerry,” Mr. Schnur said.

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