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NEWS FLASH June 24, 1999

The Only Bad News for Bush: Tomorrow Isn't Election Day
A new Harris Poll finds the Texan so far ahead of Gore that only major, repeated gaffes could close the gap

Vice-President Al Gore has to dig himself out of a mighty deep hole if he's to defeat Texas Governor George W. Bush in the 2000 Presidential election. A new Harris Poll Election 2000 survey shows that the Republican front-runner has a commanding lead over Gore among almost all voting blocs and on most major issues.

In the hypothetical horserace, Bush leads Gore, 55% to 35%. But the difference is most striking when it comes to public perceptions of their stands on key issues. Bush has an overwhelming lead of 50% to 28% when voters are asked which candidate would do a better job of keeping the economy strong. Despite his lack of international experience, the Texas governor is seen as the stronger candidate on foreign policy, 49% to 27%. And he has a huge edge on the issue of reducing taxes -- 51% to 22%.

Even on traditionally Democratic issues, Bush has been able to neutralize Gore's edge. By narrow margins, he is seen as better able to improve education, protect Social Security, and deal with abortion. Gore's only edge comes on two issues he already is highlighting: gun control (36% to 33%) and health care (38% to 35%).

LIKEABLE GUY. "George W. Bush looks extraordinarily strong," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of Louis Harris & Associates. "He is going to have to personally lose [the election]. He's going to have to shoot himself in both feet, probably several times."

One of the Bush's major assets at this point is his personality. While 42% of voters (and 67% of Republicans) say they don't like Gore, only 18% of voters (and just 30% of Democrats) dislike Bush. Backers of the Texas governor are more likely to say that his personal qualities are the most important reason for supporting him. Just 5% of Gore supporters cite his personal qualities as paramount, while 28% of Bush loyalists do. Gore's defenders are most likely to line up behind the Veep because of his position on issues.

Bush has other advantages. His support is strongest among those most likely to vote, while Gore's is deepest among those least likely to vote. Gore doesn't even have a comfortable lead over his primary election rival, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. Gore holds a relatively narrow 41% to 32% lead over Bradley among Democrats and Independents. Bradley's biggest asset is that he has accumulated few enemies: Only 14% of voters (and just 17% of Republicans) say they dislike the former Rhodes Scholar and New York Knicks basketball star.

The electronic poll, the first scientifically weighted Internet poll of the 2000 campaign, was based on responses from 12,868 adults surveyed between June 10-15. A parallel telephone poll of 1,006 adults yielded similar results.

By Richard S. Dunham in Washington

EDITED BY DOUGLAS HARBRECHT _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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