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Bush, Gore changing focus

Oct. 27, 2000

Despite poll findings,

professor predicts Gore win on Nov. 7

BY KAREN KALB

Staff writer

Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush spent the week campaigning throughout the battleground states as the 2000 presidential race winds down. The race continues to be one of the closest since Nixon and Kennedy vied for the office.

'It's definitely one of the closest elections since 1960,' said John Dervin, political and communications director of Youth Vote 2000, a bipartisan organization. 'Anyone who tells you this is an election about one simple thing is missing it. In a close election, you have to pay attention to every demographic.'

The candidates have begun to pull in major campaign support in the way of Arizona Sen. John McCain for Bush and President Bill Clinton for Gore. In contrast to previous races, Gore has not frequently used the president to rally support. Over the weekend, Gore said he would welcome campaign help from Clinton, but that 'this is a campaign that I am running on my own.'

Dr. Don Greco, assistant professor of political science, said Gore's reluctance to use Clinton may not be helpful to his campaign.

'Gore may not be doing as well as expected because he has chosen to distance himself from the Clinton administration,' Greco said.

'By many measures, the economy not being the least of which, the Clinton administration has had many successes. Yet Gore has been reluctant to campaign on those successes, presumably because that would open the door for Republicans to revisit Clinton's personal failings.'

Greco had several predictions for the next two weeks of campaigning.

'Gore will go on the attack,' Greco said. 'I am just waiting for a strong attack based on trying to raise people's fears that electing this Bush will threaten a return to economic woes that existed the last time a Bush was president.'

Despite the campaigning efforts, both candidates have consistently remained equal in the polls.

Greco said it is unclear why the race has been so close.

'This is a mystery. By all calculations, Gore should have a comfortable margin. By this I mean using established election analysis statistical models. Gore should have a 5 to 10 percent advantage,' Greco said.

'This is based on such things as the economic prosperity of the country, the incumbency factor -- coupled with the high approval ratings of the current administration -- relative social stability and international peace, or at least relatively so.'

The polls have tended to show a gender gap, with women favoring Gore and men in favor of Bush. Catherine Gordon, president of the Waco area League of Women Voters, explained why the gap may exist.

'The big issue among women is the abortion issue, and women don't want to give up their right to decide on when and how to raise their family,' Gordon said.

As with the polls, there was no clear-cut winner in the three presidential debates in Boston, Winston-Salem and St. Louis. The candidates voiced similar views on the recurring topics of Medicare, prescription drugs for the elderly, the government's level of involvement, foreign affairs and education. Though there was the Al-Tipper convention kiss and Bush tearing up about his kids on Oprah, Greco said the campaign has been issue-centered.

'The campaign has been remarkably focused on issues, especially as compared to elections through the 1980s and early '90s,' Greco said. 'I think the reason is simple. The pollsters have provided evidence that negative ads and campaigning don't work anymore. People seem to be turned off by politics in general and negative politicking in particular.'

M.A. Taylor, county chair of the Republican Party of McLennan County, said Bush's personality has played a role in his place in the polls.

'I think the most effective thing Bush

has done is to be himself. He's genuinely warm; he genuinely likes people,' Taylor said.

Sarah Dudik, a volunteer for the McLennan County Democratic Party, said she believes Gore's personality has been beneficial to him as well.

'I think he talks to voters on their level. He can talk to you one-on-one; he is clear,' Dudik said.

Greco said he does not think the Nov. 7 election results will be as close as poll results have been.

'I am relying on the scientific, statistical models that have been developed by political scientists over many years which almost unanimously show Gore winning by a comfortable margin,' Greco said.