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Bush, Gore are Winners in Minnesota Presidential Poll
by Amy Radil
March 2, 2000
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A Minnesota Public Radio - St. Paul Pioneer Press poll shows Minnesotans have no clear favorite for president. If the presidential election were held today, Republican John McCain would likely defeat Democrat Al Gore in Minnesota by a narrow margin. But Gore would edge out George W. Bush if the Texas governor were the Republican nominee. Yet, while McCain enjoys a slight edge among Minnesota voters in the general electorate, Bush is the clear favorite among Minnesota Republicans.

See complete poll results | Hear views of those who took the survey
THE TELEPHONE SURVEY of 641 registered voters around the state shows Democratic Vice President Al Gore with a 43-40 percent victory over Texas Governor George W. Bush. But if John McCain were the Republican Party's nominee, the survey suggests the Republican could take Minnesota's ten electoral votes, 44-40 percent. Both results are within the poll's four-percentage-point margin of error, making both races virtual toss-ups.

The picture is more clear-cut within the parties. The survey didn't identify those who are likely to participate in the precinct caucuses, the first step in the process of choosing national convention delegates. But survey participants who usually vote Democratic favor Gore over former Senator Bill Bradley 59-25 percent.

Macalaster College professor and former St. Paul mayor George Latimer says he joined Bradley's campaign out of admiration for his clear thinking and commitment to racial harmony. He says a lack of animosity toward the Gore campaign by Bradley supporters has also meant a lack of intensity.

"Maybe Bradley's candidacy would have greater energy if there were more anger or dislike of Gore but frankly that's not the way I've seen it at my limited activity in Minnesota," Latimer said.

See complete poll results | Hear views of those who took the survey
On the GOP side, despite McCain's popularity in the general electorate, likely Republican voters prefer Bush 49-31 percent. University of Minnesota political science professor Steve Smith says McCain's "outsider" image is responsible for the paradox. McCain has alienated his own party by even publishing the names of other Republicans he accuses of pork barrel spending, even as that same maverick image has charmed many independent voters.

Smith says Minnesota voter responses to McCain are mostly in line with national figures, despite the fact that McCain has no campaign organization in the state to speak of. But Republicans in Minnesota and around the country are solidly behind Bush.

Reform Party contender Pat Buchanan made only a slight three to four percent showing in the hypothetical match-ups, not enough to assure the party of retaining major party status in the state through the next election cycle.

Gore also received a disproportionate number of votes from women, while men preferred McCain or Bush. Political analyst Steve Smith says the poll results show a widening of the gender gap that emerged under Clinton, with more women voting Democratic, possibly out of support for legalized abortion or social programs affecting women and children.