- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

A majority of black voters want school choice vouchers and a plurality back the idea of private Social Security investment accounts two of George W. Bush's proposals but only 9 percent say they will vote for him.

A national opinion poll of black voters for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank that studies issues of interest to blacks, confirmed yesterday that blacks will vote overwhelmingly Democratic on Nov. 7 for president and Congress.

In a poll of 1,608 adults, Mr. Gore received the support of 74 percent of black voters, with 9 percent backing Mr. Bush, 2 percent for Ralph Nader and 14 percent who were undecided.

David Bositis, the center's senior research analyst, said that when the undecided are counted according to their leanings, Mr. Gore gets 87 percent of the black vote and Mr. Bush gets 11 percent.

Mr. Gore's 87 percent support "would be higher than Bill Clinton got in the 1996 election," Mr. Bositis said.

The poll showed that 84 percent of blacks said they would vote Democratic in the congressional elections, while 7 percent said they would vote Republican.

But Curtis Gans, an analyst of voter turnout, thinks that whatever the polls may show now about strong black support for Mr. Gore, it may be tempered by a slight fall in black turnout on Election Day.

"It's likely that support for Gore will be a few percentage points less than it was for Clinton," Mr. Gans said.

Mr. Gans said that he recently talked to "someone who works on black voter turnout. She told me that blacks do not feel the same intensity level in this election as they did in 1996 and 1992."

Yet the survey also showed strong support among black voters for two of Mr. Bush's central campaign proposals.

A 57 percent majority of black voters said they supported the idea of giving parents school vouchers to let them send their children to better schools.

"Among blacks, those under 35 (75 percent), black Republicans (69 percent), and those from households with children (74 percent) are most supportive of vouchers," Mr. Bositis said in his report.

Mr. Bush's education plan would divert federal funds for vouchers to help parents whose children are trapped in failing public schools.

At the same time, a 45 percent plurality of blacks said they supported Mr. Bush's idea of letting workers invest a small part of their Social Security payroll taxes in private retirement accounts that they would own.

Among blacks, 55 percent of those under age 50 said they supported the idea of being allowed to invest some of their taxes in stocks and bonds.

Still, a much larger 76 percent of blacks supported Mr. Gore's "Retirement Savings Plus" plan, which would provide matching payments to lower- and middle-income families who put aside a certain amount in savings accounts.

The survey found that 86 percent of black voters had a favorable opinion of Mr. Gore, while 7 percent viewed him unfavorably. Mr. Bush, on the other hand, received a 55 percent unfavorable and 29 percent favorable rating.

The poll also revealed "a modest change in black partisan identification toward the Democrats," Mr. Bositis said.

The poll found that 74 percent of blacks identified themselves as Democrats, up from 68 percent in 1999, while 20 percent identified themselves as independents, down from 23 percent last year.

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