- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2000

George W. Bush is leading Al Gore in 29 states with a total of 262 electoral votes just eight short of the 270 needed to win the presidency, according to a state-by-state survey by The Washington Times.

In a contest that may not be as close in the Electoral College as many media pundits have predicted, Mr. Gore is currently ahead in only 12 states including the two biggest electoral states, California and New York which would give him a total of 167 votes.

The Times survey, based on the latest independent news media polls in the states, showed that nine states with 109 electoral votes including three major states in the industrial Midwest remain tossups.

The Bush campaign's electoral estimate in its own state-by-state survey gives 273 electoral votes to Mr. Bush, 138 votes to Mr. Gore, with 127 votes still up for grabs.

The Times survey shows Mr. Bush remains ahead in all of the Western plains and mountain states, and most of the Southern and border states, while Mr. Gore leads in most of the Northeast and in California in the West.

The outcome of the election will probably be decided in the Midwestern battleground states where the two candidates are still locked in a virtual dead heat: Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Mr. Bush, however, has strong leads in Indiana, Ohio and Missouri and a slight edge in Iowa.

In the West, Mr. Bush is ahead in Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Texas.

While Mr. Gore has the edge in most polls in California, the contest has significantly tightened there, and some recent polls find that Mr. Bush may have pulled even with his Democratic opponent.

A major factor in Mr. Bush's increasing strength in the state is his rising support among Hispanic voters. Recent polls show that he is getting more than a third of their support an unusually high percentage for a Republican candidate.

In the most visible sign of Mr. Gore's weakness, Mr. Bush has held onto a slight 1-point to 3-point lead in Washington state and Oregon, states that the Democrats have carried with ease in the last three presidential elections.

In addition to his commanding strength in the West, Mr. Bush appears poised to reclaim the South for the Republicans, who once had a lock on the region, only to see much of it fall to Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

Mr. Bush now leads in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia and even in heavily Democratic West Virginia.

Mr. Gore has paper-thin leads in only two Deep South states, Arkansas and his home state of Tennessee, and an eight-point lead in Maryland.

As of now, Mr. Gore's strongest region is in the liberal Northeast, where he has double-digit leads in New York and New Jersey, and is ahead in half of the New England states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.

But even in this heavily Democratic region, Mr. Bush is posing a strong challenge in several states, running up a 10-point lead in New Hampshire and holding a three-point edge in Pennsylvania, which delivers 23 electoral votes, and a five-point edge in tiny Delaware.

Meanwhile, the Internet voter service Voter.com released the results of its own state-by-state tally over the weekend, projecting that Mr. Bush would win his bid for the president by carrying 28 states with 273 electoral votes.

A board of political experts brought together by the Internet group said Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas would be among the states Mr. Bush would carry in November.

They said Mr. Gore would carry the District of Columbia and 20 states, including California, New York, Michigan, Minnesota and New Jersey, giving him 236 electoral votes.

Illinois and Iowa, with a combined 29 electoral votes, were considered too close to call.

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