Gore Has Lead in National Poll

Saturday, September 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Al Gore holds a 10-point lead over George W. Bush in a national presidential poll of registered voters out Friday. Other polls show a double-digit lead in Vermont and an edge in Iowa.

The new polls continue a full week of Gore gains in the race, including key battleground states. The latest poll results came out as Republicans launched a TV ad campaign, appearing in key states, that sharply criticizes Gore's credibility.

More national polls will come out next week that will give a clearer picture of the race.

In the national Newsweek poll, Democrat Gore had 49 percent, Republican Bush had 39 percent, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had 3 percent and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan had 1 percent. The two leading candidates were in a dead heat a week ago in this poll.

``We've said all along this will be a close race and polls during this time period will be all over the map,'' said Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett.

The national poll showed that a strong majority, 61 percent, said it is appropriate for candidates to discuss their own religion and religious beliefs during the campaign. Candidates on both sides have referred to their religion while campaigning, but the candidacy of Democratic running mate Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, has raised the profile of religion in politics.

The Lieberman campaign declined to comment on the polls and Gore campaign officials did not return calls Friday. Bush aides said they believe religious beliefs are relevant to the campaign.

``It's an important part of who Governor Bush is,'' said Bartlett. ``When asked, he gives his beliefs and feelings and he respects Joe Lieberman and his faith as well.''

Americans over time have shown tolerance for a candidate's religious beliefs, but reservations if it will dictate their decisions, said Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center.

``They like candidates to be religious, but they don't want religion to dictate actions for the candidates,'' Smith said. Four of 10 in the Newsweek poll said the amount of time Lieberman is discussing religion is ``about right'' while 28 percent said it was too much. Just over half agree with Lieberman that religion should play a bigger role in public life in America.

In the horse-race, Gore had a 20-point lead among women, was about even with Bush among men, and had a 20-point lead among those 50 and over. The two were about even among independents.

Gore was given about the same ratings for leadership and honesty and scored a bit higher than Bush on the questions of intelligence and caring about ordinary people. Gore led Bush on the issues of the economy, Social Security, health care, education and upholding moral values. Bush scored better on national defense.

In an Iowa Poll sponsored by the Des Moines Register, Gore led Bush 45 percent to 37 percent, after trailing there earlier in the year. Democrats have won Iowa and its 7 electoral votes in the last three presidential elections.

In the Vermont poll by Mason Dixon, Gore led Bush 49 percent to 36 percent. He led Bush by similar margins in earlier Vermont polls.

The Newsweek poll of 755 registered voters was taken Wednesday and Thursday. The Iowa poll of 532 likely Iowa voters was taken from Aug. 23 through Wednesday. The Vermont poll of 621 registered voters was taken from Monday through Wednesday. All three polls had error margins of 4 percentage points.