Poll puts pressure on Gore

A new survey shows the vice president sinking fast. And Clinton stalls while Lazio stumbles.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 27, 2000 10:16PM (EDT)

The vice president may have thought that his poll troubles were over when a Newsweek survey showed him locked in a dead heat with George W. Bush. But it's time to put the cork back in that bottle of champagne. A CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll shows Bush with his strongest lead over Al Gore in months: 52 percent to 39 percent. The survey, conducted June 23-25, has a three-point margin of error, putting Gore's deficit well within the range of statistical relevance.

The results also show that the traditional Democratic gender gap is gone. And Bush has opened up a little gender gap of his own, with a 48 to 42 percent advantage over Gore among women voters. Even fellow Democrats are fairly unmoved by their party's likely nominee, with just 75 percent of party members sticking with Gore, as opposed to a whopping 91 percent of Republicans committed to Bush.

Gore's burst of energy
The Democratic presidential candidate debuted his much-anticipated energy plan during a campaign stop in Philadelphia. Reuters reports that the $75 billion proposal aims to reduce American dependence on foreign oil, decrease the use of polluting technologies and ensure a stable electricity supply. "There can be a next stage of prosperity in which American creativity builds not just a better product, but a better planet," Gore said. Though the plan has an Earth-first slant, it's also business friendly. Much of the money devoted to Gore's vision would go to industry, with $68 billion allocated for tax breaks, loans, grants and other incentives to switch to environmentally aware business practices.

Hillary has fun, but stalls on the trail
Judging by her increasing comfort on the campaign trail, Clinton should be climbing in the polls, but she's not. The Washington Post reports that while the first lady has loosened up -- poking fun at herself and taking the carpetbagger jibes in stride -- that hasn't translated into greater public support. What Clinton really needs is a more potent foe, someone with negatives as high as her own, someone with built-in enemies and a record of making more enemies at a rapid rate, someone like ... Rudy Giuliani. "With Rudy gone, it's turned into a race between Hillary and herself, and that's always dangerous for a politician," said New York political analyst Jim Chapin. Yet Clinton, perhaps as a consequence of her Washington experience, has discovered the essence of New York politics. "Everyone's stabbing everyone," notes Ed Ott, a union political operative. "Machiavelli has nothing on New York."

Little Ricky suffers growing pains
Despite his strong premiere, Lazio also is getting diminishing returns in his campaign. The Associated Press reports that New York Republicans have had enough of his amateur errors. The congressman's failure to vote on a bill that would establish a Northeast oil reserve gave Clinton fresh meat for her latest attack ads. And Lazio failed to show for a news conference that Washington Republicans had set up for him to bash the Clinton administration over soaring energy costs. Other symbolic gaffes by Lazio include distributing campaign T-shirts emblazoned with "Made in New York" that had tags reading "Assembled in Mexico," leaving the state party convention on a customized campaign tour bus that sported an Alabama license plate, dodging the annual gay pride parade in New York and completely muffing a statement on Native American gambling casinos. When asked about Indian gaming during a stop in Buffalo, Lazio said that it was only fair for tribes to run casinos because "Native Americans were given many parts of our country, some [of it] very difficult land, with very few opportunities."

Though order has broken down in Lazio's campaign lately, there's a new sheriff in town. Bill Dal Col, who previously ran Steve Forbes' presidential efforts, has stepped in to put the congressman's ducks in a row. Getting those ducks to victory, as Dal Col must have learned with Forbes, is a different matter.

Poll positions
Presidential race:

  • Bush 52 to Gore 39 (CNN/Gallup/USA Today June 23-25).
  • Bush 45 to Gore 45 (Newsweek June 22-23).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 41 (NBC/Wall Street Journal June 14-18).
  • Bush 52 to Gore 40 (Voter.com June 11-13).
  • Bush 50 to Gore 40 (Los Angeles Times June 8-13).
  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (Zogby June 9-12).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (ABC News/Washington Post June 8-11).

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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