A batch of new campaign polls are due out at the end of this week; and they're being eagerly awaited to see if Al Gore solidifies, or loses, his narrow lead over George W. Bush. (As of now, internal polls from both campaigns have Gore running roughly five points ahead of Bush.) But a series of state polls released over the last week provide some hints. A poll of Iowa voters completed on August 30th gave Gore a 45-37 lead; A poll of Missouri voters finished on September 1st showed Gore leading Bush by a 45-41 margin. But the news wasn't all good for Gore. A poll of Ohio voters completed on the 1st of September gave Bush a 49-43 lead; And another poll of Michigan voters, finished on August 25th showed Bush edging out Gore 40-37. A poll of Michigan voters completed two days earlier had had Gore up by 2 percent. Gore should be competitive in Ohio; but he could lose Ohio and still win the election. The same may not be true of Michigan.
Rising rates of turnout among African-American voters has been a key reason for Democratic successes in recent years -- especially in 1998, and particularly in the South. No doubt, African-Americans will be a key source of strength for Al Gore this November. But a poll of Michigan voters published on August 29th by the Detroit News shows that only 63 percent of black voters currently support Gore. 63 percent may sound good. But in presidential races Democrats can usually garner between 85 percent and 95 percent of the African-American electorate. So what's the problem? They're not going to Bush. He's only pulling 3 percent. The key is that a relatively high percentage are undecided. And that could mean a significant drag on turnout in a state where Gore will need every vote he can get.
A slew of political interest groups and unions have taken a long, hard look and decided to endorse Al Gore rather than endorsing Ralph Nader or endorsing no one at all. On Monday, Friends of the Earth, which had endorsed Bill Bradley in the primaries, endorsed Gore. And the Teamsters, the last hold-out among the major labor unions, is expected to endorse the vice-president's candidacy on Thursday, September 7th.
Donald Lambro of The Washington Times wins the Washington Memo Award for Most-Creatively-Pitiful-Attempt-to-Deny-the-Gore-Surge. Where to start? Lambro begins thus: "As the two presidential rivals formally kicked off their general election campaigns in a burst of Labor Day weekend rallies and parades, national polls showed Mr. Gore's big post-convention bounce has faded and the race for the White House has turned into a dead heat." Really? The evidence? That would be the August 27th CNN-USA Today-Gallup giving Bush a 1-point lead over Gore, the first poll with a Bush lead since August 17th. Lambro apparently missed the August 28th ICR poll which gave Gore a 3-point lead; the August 29th Research 2000 poll which gave Gore a 4-point lead; and the August 31st Newsweek poll which gave Gore a 10 point lead. I'll spare you the ugly details of Lambro's article and trust me, there's plenty. But if you're interested you can find his award-winning column here.