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Bush, Gore Are Front-runners in Presidential Poll
By Lynette Nyman
July 15, 1999
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A new political poll shows Minnesotans would vote for Texas Governor George W. Bush over Vice-President Al Gore if the presidential election were held today. The results put Bush ahead of Gore among likely Minnesota voters, but they also have Gore running ahead of presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole.

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See the complete results of the MPR poll.
FORTY-FOUR PERCENT OF REGISTERED MINNESOTA VOTERS would chose George W. Bush over Vice President Al Gore in a two-way race if the election were held now. Gore had 39-percent support in the most recent Minnesota Public Radio, KARE TV, Saint Paul Pioneer Press poll. Seventeen percent say they're undecided, and a hypothetical, two-way race between Gore and Republican Elizabeth Dole showed a dead heat; 40 percent for Gore and 39 percent for Dole with a margin of error of 5 percentage points. Chris Gilbert, a political scientist at Gustavus Adolphus College, says Bush's popularity with Minnesota voters reflects his appeal nationwide.
Gilbert: It's almost a honeymoon effect. This is the first time he's a national figure. People were predisposed to like his father, even though he didn't always agree with him. And I think he's benefitting from that.
Gilbert says Gore's numbers may, in fact, be stronger than Bush's since Gore has already faced media scrutiny, unlike his strongest opponent who's still fairly mum about what he's calling "compassionate conservatism." Twin Cities resident Sue Kolias, one of those polled, has made up her mind to vote for Bush, even though she doesn't know the details of his political philosophy.
Kolias: I guess it's more against the Gore bid. I don't see him too much as a leader. More passive. Kind of more or less sick of the whole administration.
Kolias echoes other voters who say they're ready for someone new in the White House, especially somebody not associated with President Clinton. But others say Clinton's troubles should not reflect on Gore. They're hoping a second Bush doesn't win the election next year.
Gibson: That would be terrible.
E. Bob Gibson is a retired postal worker from west-central Minnesota. He says he's not a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. That he's voted for Republican candidates in the past, but not this time because, he says Al Gore is for the common man.
Gibson: I think too many people make a mistake of trying to splice Clinton and Gore together. Gore's going to have his own mind. And he's a great one for the environment.
Minnesotans have a history of voting liberal for the presidency. So in some respects the poll results are surprising. In the last century, Minnesota voters helped elect only two GOP candidates: Eisenhower in 1956 and Nixon in 1972. Since then it's been Democrat all the way. But Republican George Bush ran strong in 1992, suggesting Minnesota voters are changing their electoral tastes.

Political Science Professor Chris Gilbert.
Gilbert: It reflects, I think, in general the DFL party is down in the state, still recovering from what was a disastrous 1998 campaign, losing the state house and what seemed to be a popular gubernatorial candidate not only lose but finish third.
GOP party leaders say they anticipate taking the Minnesota Senate in the next general election. Reform Party leaders have hoped Governor Ventura's victory last November would boost the Reformers as a legitimate third party in the presidential sweepstakes. But Minnesota voters polled don't want Ventura to be part of the race. A resounding 84 percent polled voters said "no" when asked if Governor Ventura should find his next ring at the Oval Office.