In the Spotlight

News & Features
MPR Poll: Gore, Bush in Dead Heat in Minnesota
By Michael Khoo
November 1, 2000
Click for audio RealAudio

Texas Gov. George W. Bush arrives in Minnesota today to try to break a statistical dead heat among likely Minnesota voters. A new poll, conducted for Minnesota Public Radio, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and KARE-11 TV, shows Gore with 44 percent, Bush with 41 percent, and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader with 8 percent.  

See complete poll questions and results.

WITH THE CAMPAIGN FINISH LINE in sight, the stream of candidates and candidates' wives has become a virtual deluge. In the last few days, Minnesota has hosted Al Gore, Dick Cheney, Tipper Gore, and Ralph Nader. Now, it's George W. Bush's turn.

"To have the candidate here six days before the election tells you that this state important," says St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who chairs Bush's Minnesota campaign.

"George Bush is going to win Minnesota. That's why he's here, we can see it. The trends are moving in our direction, again, because he's talking about bringing people together, he's talking about empowering individuals and families," said Coleman.

The latest MPR poll numbers show Gore leading Bush 44 percent to 41 percent. But that gap falls within the poll's plus-or-minus 4 percentage point margin of error. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader comes in third with 8 percent.

Respondent John Stangler, a 49-year-old logger from Deer River, credits Bush's strength to the scandals that plagued the Clinton-Gore administration. He says he's attracted to the Texas governor's character.

"The numbers that I've heard all through the campaign and through the debates about what he's done down in Texas and what's been done in the last eight years, I don't think those numbers mean anything, because I think those numbers could be just about made to be anything you want them to be. So all I'm going by is the way the guy faces the camera, the way the guy presents himself," says Strangler.

Stangler is one of 625 likely Minnesota voters contacted late last week for the survey. Sue Jewell of Plymouth also participated. The 56-year-old former high school teacher says she's supporting the vice president.

"I certainly am not absolutely crazy about Gore as a person," she admits. "But with the choice we have, I think I trust his policies and I trust him as a person much more than I do George Bush."

Jewell says she's not as enthused about Gore as she'd like to be, but she says the Democrats are more in tune with average working families than the GOP. However, more ambivalent voters seem to have abandoned the Democrats for the Green Party ticket. In fact, Rick Stafford, who chairs Gore's state campaign, says the race in Minnesota is not so much between Gore and Bush as it is between Gore and Nader. Stafford says if the Nader effect tips Minnesota into the Republican column, it would sink the national effort.

"If Gore lost Minnesota, there's just no way that he could do win nationally," says Stafford.

Democrats and other pro-Gore interest groups are appealing to Nader voters to reconsider their votes. But Green Party activist Ken Pentel says Nader supporters won't be wooed back so easily.

"We are authentically building a new political party," he says. "We're here to stay. It's not going away. We're talking about things that are clearly different than what the dominant parties engage in right now."

The dominant parties are certainly paying attention to the Nader candidacy and the uncertainty it's created in key states including Minnesota. Bush has stops scheduled in the Twin Cities and Duluth Wednesday.