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MPR Poll: Gore Leads Bush in Minnesota
By Laura McCallum
September 29, 2000
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A new poll on the presidential race in Minnesota shows Democrat Al Gore maintains a slight lead over Republican George W. Bush. The MPR - St. Paul Pioneer Press - KARE TV poll found Gore with 47-percent support, Bush with 40 percent, and Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader supported by four percent of those polled.

See complete poll questions and results.

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POLLS EARLIER THIS YEAR showed Gore and Bush neck-and-neck in Minnesota, which has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1972. But Gore pulled ahead following his party convention in August, and this poll of 627 registered voters gave him a seven-point lead. The poll's margin of error is plus- or minus-four percentage points.

Rick Stafford, state chairman of the Gore campaign in Minnesota, says Gore can't afford to take Minnesota for granted.

"It's still close, and we've got to just keep plugging away there, and making sure we get these voters out, and when we do get the voters out, we're pretty sure and confident that they're going to lean towards Al Gore and Joe Lieberman," Stafford says.

Gore has a sizable lead among women polled; 53-percent say they'll vote for Gore, compared to only 34 percent supporting Bush. Bush has a slight lead among men.

Poll respondents said Gore would do a better job handling issues such as education, the environment and foreign policy, while Bush is more capable on defense and energy policy. But ultimately, many voters polled said they'll base their presidential vote on the candidates' character, qualities and experience, instead of their stands on the issues.

That's why 58-year-old David Genkins of Minnetonka is backing Bush.

"He's advocating individual responsibility; he's saying all the right things. Al Gore, you can't trust the guy. Every week, he comes out with another gross distortion or an outright lie," Genkins said.

Gore has an 11-point lead in the Twin Cities, and is carrying the Iron Range and southeastern Minnesota, while Bush leads in western Minnesota.

Carleton College political scientist Steven Schier says given Minnesota's history of voting Democrat and Gore's narrow lead, he thinks Gore will carry Minnesota. But he's surprised that Nader isn't doing better.

"Nader becomes a factor if he gets above five, six, or seven percent, then I think it would come out of Gore's support and make this a real barnburner of a race in Minnesota," says Schier. "But right now, Ralph Nader is not really breaking through in a state where he has some potential to break through, but has yet to do it."

The Gore campaign says the vice president's slim lead is nothing to get overconfident about, and that Gore plans one last visit to the state before the November election. Bush may campaign in Minnesota in the final weeks, depending on whether his campaign thinks he has a good shot of carrying the state.

Mike Campbell, executive director of the Bush campaign in Minnesota, says he thinks a campaign stop by Bush or running mate Dick Cheney would close Gore's seven-point lead.

"If they think Minnesota's 10 electoral votes can swing the election for them and if they believe that they have a viable chance in the state, they'll be here," he said.

But with less than six weeks left in the campaign, time is running out. Carleton's Schier says he thinks both the Gore and Bush campaigns probably figure Minnesota will continue its tradition of voting Democrat at the top of the ticket.