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Poll: Gore trails Bush on eve of Democratic convention

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Vice President Al Gore is supported by just 39 percent of likely voters, compared to for 53 percent Texas Gov. George W. Bush in a hypothetical four-way presidential race, according to the latest CNN/Time poll conducted on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

Pat Buchanan, who is poised to wrap up the Reform Party nomination in nearby Long Beach this weekend, receives 2 percent and Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate, comes in with 4 percent.

Bush's support is almost identical to a poll taken just before the Republican convention, indicating that the bounce he received out of the Philadelphia gathering has almost completely faded -- although a 14-point lead is still substantial.

Bush's big advantage remains Gore's relative unpopularity: more than six in ten Americans have a favorable opinion of the Texas governor, while barely half of all Americans have a favorable view of Gore. Most Americans say that the vice president is not someone they admire, and only 42 percent consider him a strong and decisive leader. Nearly half say he is too close to President Clinton, although that number is down significantly since 1999.

Indeed, with Clinton's arrival in Los Angeles and his speech before the convention Monday night, media attention will be focused on the president and his effect on Gore's own presidential chances. Gore faces the challenge, as have previous vice presidents, of trying to emerge from the president's shadow without appearing disloyal -- something Bush's father was able to do successfully at the 1988 GOP convention.

Public opinion is split over whether Gore's candidacy is a creation of Clinton or based on Gore's own qualifications for the job. However, most Americans believe that Clinton's record on the economy and other issues is a good indication of how Gore would do as president -- an advantage for Gore, because more than three-quarters think things are going well in the country.

Even more important for Gore's chances, a majority of the public says that Clinton's ethical standards -- which they dislike -- are not a good indication of the ethical standards Gore would bring to the White House if elected.

The CNN/Time poll was conducted August 9-10, 2000, and consisted of interviews with 1,297 adult Americans, including 781 likely voters.

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10

Suppose the election for president were being held today, and you had to choose between Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman, the Democrats; George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Republicans; Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke, the Green Party candidates; and Pat Buchanan the Reform Party candidate. For whom would you vote -- Gore, Bush, Buchanan, or Nader?


           Now     July

Bush       53%      52%
Gore       39       36
Nader       4        5
Buchanan    2        4

Sampling error: +/-4% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10

Suppose the election for president were being held today, and you had to choose between Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman, the Democrats and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the Republicans. For whom would you vote -- Gore or Bush?

           Now     July

Bush       55%      56%
Gore       42       41

Sampling error: +/-4% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10

Do you have generally favorable or generally unfavorable impressions of George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore?

             Bush    Gore

Favorable     62%     50%
Unfavorable   28      38

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
What is your opinion of Vice President Gore?

 
                      Yes     No

Too close to Clinton  49%     45%
Strong leader         42      49
Someone you admire    40      56

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Is Gore too close to President Clinton?

          Now     1999

Yes       49%      55%
No        45       37

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
In your view, has Bill Clinton been as success or failure since he took office?


Success      60%
Failure      34

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Do you think Bill Clinton's record on handling the economy and other important is a good indication or a poor indication of how Al Gore would do as president?

Good Indication

Yes      57%
No       31

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Do you think Bill Clinton's ethical standards are a good indication or a poor indication of how Al Gore would do as president?

Good Indication

Yes      30%
No       53

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
As a presidential candidate, do you think Al Gore is more a candidate in his own right, that is based on his qualifications, or more a creation of Bill Clinton choosing him as vice president?

Creation of Clinton      45%
Based on his own     
  qualifications         42

Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Much has been made of the parallels between 2000 and 1988, when a successful convention was the turning point of the entire campaign, allowing Vice President George Bush to overtake his opponent after being down 17 points in the polls and march on to victory.

But Al Gore in many respects has a tougher challenge than Bush the elder faced 12 years ago on the eve of the pivotal GOP convention in New Orleans. Although the senior Bush faced a 17-point deficit against Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis at one point in 1988, by the time the Republican convention rolled around, the Democratic nominee was only leading by a 49 percent to 42 percent margin. Gore has to make up twice as much ground as the elder Bush did in his convention.

Gore is also considered less experienced than Bush in 1988, less credible at handling an international crisis, and less strong as a leader. However, Gore's big advantage is that he scores higher than the elder Bush on compassion. Gore also rates slightly higher than Bush did in 1988 when it comes to managing the economy.

But the current vice president also faces another significant problem that the elder Bush never really had to worry about -- a popular opponent. Dukakis' favorable rating in 1988 never rose above 54 percent; after the GOP convention it had dipped to 49 percent and by October had dropped further to just 44 percent. George W. Bush's favorable rating, by contrast, now stands at 62 percent. History indicates that Gore's task at this year's Democratic convention will be to lower his opponent's favorable rating as well as raise his own.

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Choice for President Before 2000 Bush 53% Dem. convention Gore 39 ---------------------------------- Before 1988 Dukakis 49% GOP convention Bush 42 Source for 1988: Gallup poll Sampling error: +/-4% pts CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Opinion of Candidates Gore Vice President Bush Now in 1988 Has experience 66% 80% Strong leader 42 47 International crisis 42 51 Sampling error: +/-3% pts CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Opinion of Candidates Gore Vice President Bush Now in 1988 Cares about people 65% 51% Can manage economy 53 50 Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Earlier this week, Gore selected Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his running mate. Although nine in ten Americans say that the fact that Lieberman is Jewish would not affect their vote in November, four in ten say that they are very or somewhat concerned that he does not believe in Jesus Christ. Nearly half are concerned about his effect on U.S. relations with Arab countries in the Middle East. About a third say they are very or somewhat concerned that Lieberman might not be able to fulfill the duties of his office if they fell on the Sabbath or a religious holiday. In addition, Lieberman is still not well known to many Americans.

CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Does the fact that Jospeh Lieberman is Jewish make you more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket this year, less likely, or will it have no effect on your vote? More likely for Gore 4% Less likely for Gore 3 No effect 91 Sampling error: +/-3% pts CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Are you concerned that if Lieberman were to become vice president it would affect relations with Arab countries in the Middle East? Yes 48% No 45 Sampling error: +/-3% pts CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Are you concerned that Lieberman does not believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God? Yes 40% No 56 Sampling error: +/-3% pts CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Are you concerned that Lieberman would not be able to fulfil some of his duties because they occurred on religious holidays or the Jewish Sabbath? Yes 33% No 64 Sampling error: +/-3% pts CNN/TIME POLL
August 9-10
Opinion of Lieberman Favorable 37% Unfavorable 14 Unsure 49 Sampling error: +/-3% pts