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Gore Pulls Ahead in Minnesota
By Michael Khoo
August 23, 2000
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A new poll shows Vice President Al Gore has taken the lead among likely Minnesota voters. Over the summer, various polls have shown Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush in a virtual dead heat to carry the state. But the survey, conducted for Minnesota Public Radio, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and KARE-11 TV, shows Gore leading Bush by eight percentage points.

The Results
See the complete poll results.
THE LATEST POLL was conducted earlier this week, just in time to capture any wave Vice President Gore was riding out of the Democrats' Los Angeles convention. And the results indicate the tide has indeed turned. The survey shows Gore leading Bush 48 percent to 40 percent, putting his lead beyond the 4 percentage point margin of error. Jeff Haskin, 39, an Austin toolmaker, says he'll vote for Gore in November but offers a less-than-flattering justification.

"He's a little lesser of the two evils. I think that Bush, I think, he's tied in a little bit too much with big money and I think he has too many favors that will have to be repaid. And those favors aren't something that's going to be advantageous to us common people," he said.

Haskin is one of 621 likely Minnesota voters contacted for the poll. He says he's been a Gore supporter from the start, but was glad to see the convention speak to what he calls the "common man." Throughout the summer, Gore has struggled in Minnesota, a troubling sign, according to some observers, in a state that hasn't voted Republican in a presidential contest in almost 30 years. Rick Stafford chairs the Minnesota Gore campaign. He says he was confident Gore would bounce back once voters had a chance to hear his message. He says the convention provided that oppportunity.

"Minnesotans have seen who Al... at least a snapshot of what Al Gore is, that he's his own man, that where he... his policies will differ from George Bush. And it's what we've said all along. That when Minnesotans know what the difference are between George Bush and Al Gore, they're going to be with Al Gore because Al Gore represents their values and where they believe our country needs to be headed," Stafford said.

Despite Gore's lead, Republican strategists say they, too, are pleased with the poll numbers. St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman leads the Minnesota Bush campaign. He says the eight point gap is still competitive and will shrink as November approaches. Coleman says voters may have been impressed with Gore's convention performance, but that they'll soon sift through the podium rhetoric.

"Is he Al Gore, the alpha male? Is he Al Gore, the policy wonk? Is he Al Gore, now, the spontaneous individual? But the bottom line is it's still an Al Gore who'll look to government to solve problems which will mean more programs. It's an Al Gore who's not going to provide opportunity for kids with... give parents greater opportunity to be involved in their kids education, greater parental choice, which in the end, without that, we are leaving a lot of kids behind. So, I think there've been a lot of variations," Coleman said.

Coleman says it will be an uphill battle for the Bush camp to claim Minnesota, but that he's far from conceding the state. Bush supporter Elmer Jelgerhuis of Bloomington says he expects the poll results to hold, but the 44-year-old mechanical engineer says he's more concerned with the national picture.

"There are things that I'm very concerned about in Bush's approach. But I think the country will be better off if he's elected rather than Gore. And so as long as the country overall, as long as the electoral votes are there, which way Minnesota goes doesn't matter to me as much," Jelgerhuis said.

Gore's national numbers have also jumped following the convention - although they've generally fallen within the various margins of error. The poll also found limited support for third-party candidates among Minnesota voters. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who has been considered a possible threat to Gore, registered three percent. St. Paul respondent Carol Klein says she just doesn't feel the minor-party candidates have the appropriate breadth.

"They have very limited issues. Not that I don't like Ralph Nader; I think he's done great things - you know, with the Pinto and the whole bit - but I just don't think he's broad enough," she said.

Klein, a 58-year-old early education instructor, says she'll vote for Gore. Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan finished the poll at the bottom with a mere one percent.