- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Vice President Al Gore has won over white independent women enough to bounce ahead of Texas Gov. George W. Bush by up to three percentage points in polls since the Democratic National Convention ended Thursday.

But that advantage may be illusory. Weekend polling is notoriously unreliable, according to a major poll-taker.

Nonetheless, post-convention polling is carefully watched since a failure to get even a slight boost presages deep trouble for a candidate in November.

Mr. Gore has avoided that fate, his numbers surging in three polls released yesterday and Sunday.

The vice president also pulled ahead by 47 percent to 46 percent in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, released Sunday, of 697 likely voters taken Friday and Saturday.

The same poll taken Aug. 11-12, between the two party conventions, had Mr. Bush leading by 16 points, 55 percent to 39 percent.

"All post-Democratic convention movement to Gore is among independent women, as opposed to Republicans or Democrats," said Lydia Saad, managing editor of the Gallup poll.

Among white married women, Mr. Bush now leads by just 48 percent to 46 percent, and among all white women, Mr. Gore leads by 52 percent to 41 percent.

"Gore has a better-than-10-point edge and perhaps as much as a 20-point lead among non-married white women, and this would be mainly 18-to-29-year-olds and the women 65 and older," Miss Saad said.

Others weren't so taken by the results, blaming pressure by the news organizations that hire pollsters to do "quickie" polls after a major event.

The Battleground poll, a daily rolling survey of 1,000 voters each two days of the Democratic convention by Gore pollster Celinda Lake and Republican Ed Goeas, showed that Mr. Gore came to the convention nine points down and left eight points down.

"It's absurd to poll on the weekend, and everyone knows it," Mr. Goeas told The Washington Times last night. "Legitimate polling later this week will show Gore got about a four-point bump out of his convention, so he'll be trailing by five points, which is what our poll showed" for the last two days of the convention, he predicted.

The vice president gained 16 points in a CBS-New York Times poll released yesterday, leading Mr. Bush 45 percent to 44 percent in the poll of 954 registered voters conducted Friday through Sunday.

Mr. Bush led Mr. Gore 50 percent to 35 percent in that same survey from Aug. 4 to 6, following the Republican National Convention.

In addition, a Zogby poll released yesterday of 1,004 likely voters taken for Reuters news agency on Friday through Sunday, Mr. Gore reversed the three-point deficit he had before the Democratic convention to pull ahead of Mr. Bush by 44 percent to 41 percent.

"The key groups now for Gore and Bush to solidify victory are independents, married voters with children under 17 and voters earning $25,000 to $50,000," Mr. Zogby said. "Since 1972, no president has been elected without winning that income group."

A bad sign for Mr. Bush would be significant erosion in the lead among white men.

"We're always in trouble when we don't have a double-digit lead with men," a Republican campaign adviser confided.

The Gallup poll is reassuring to Mr. Bush on that score. It shows that white men prefer him to Mr. Gore by a 26-point margin 59 percent to 33 percent.

Among women, the issues Mr. Gore emphasized helped his showing no more than the leadership image he tried to portray, Miss Saad added. "It was an across-the-board gain on his favorable rating, his leadership and all major issues, from health care and Social Security to the economy," she said.

"Two issues he didn't improve his rating on, however, were abortion and guns," Miss Saad said. "This election isn't about abortion or guns."

A Bush strength has been likability, which is the basis of voter trust.

"On the question of who is more likable, Gore and Bush tied at 40 percent each, so it is still not one of Gore's strengths," Miss Saad said.

The CBS-New York Times poll also had Mr. Gore's favorability rating rising since the Democratic convention, from 33 percent to 45 percent, tying Mr. Bush.

The Bush adviser privately said the Texas governor will not back away from his major policy proposals for deep tax cuts, partial future privatization of Social Security and vouchers for parents with children in underperforming schools.

"There is no reason for Bush to back off these or any other of his issues agenda," the adviser said.

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