Presidential head scratcher

Newspapers and talk show denizens agree: This race is too close to call.

Published November 5, 2000 4:47PM (EST)

Though Texas Gov. George W. Bush clings to a small lead over Vice President Al Gore in national tracking polls, Sunday's newspapers and talk shows all lead with stories calling the presidential race too close to call. But that should not be confused with the sounds of silence. Pundits have weighed in with a loud shrug of the sholders, filling the talk shows with choruses of I-don't-knows, and references to 1888, the last time there was an electoral college/popular vote split, both on the airwaves and in print. But there is consensus on one thing: This race will come down to which party gets their voters to the polls.

The New York Times' R.W. Apple writes: "Although Mr. Bush continued to hold leads ranging from one to five percentage points in all the national tracking polls, in addition to his slight advantage in the electoral college calculations, the pattern was confusing and contradictory, with Mr. Gore gaining ground in some swing states."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post provides "a list of assumptions that have been proven wrong so far and other that might go by the board after the returns are in."

The Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein serves up the same sense of befuddlement. "Not in at least 20 years, and perhaps 40, has the result of a presidential race appeared so uncertain in the last hours before election. National polls give Texas Gov. Bush a narrow advantage, but Vice President Gore is still showing enough strength in key battleground states like this to retain his hope of a comeback." The Times cites an ABC tracking poll showing that the Bush DUI story has had little effect in the closing days of this campaign.

Will Nader help Dems' Senate candidates?

While the Green Party candidate could help sink Gore in states like Michigan, Florida and Washington, Ralph Nader-driven turn-out may end up helping Democratic senatorial candidates in those states, three of the most hotly contested races of this season.

Senator Clinton?

While the fight for the Congress is also up in the air, first lady Hillary Clinton seems headed to victory over Rep. Rick Lazio in the highest profile Senate race in the country. With polls showing a Clinton victory within reach, the first lady embarked on a marathon six-church tour Sunday from Brooklyn to Harlem in an attempt to drive up African-American votes on Tuesday.

Presidential poll positions
Major-party candidates:

  • Bush 47 to Gore 43 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup Nov. 1-3).
  • Bush 46 to Gore 44 (Reuters/MSNBC Nov. 1-4).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 45 (ABC News Nov. 1-3).
  • Bush 48 to Gore 45 (Washington Post Oct. 30-Nov. 1).
  • Bush 46 to Gore 44 (CBS News/New York Times Nov. 1-3).
  • Bush 47 to Gore 43 (Pew Center for the People and the Press Oct. 25-29).
  • Bush 45 to Gore 42 (Newsweek Oct. 25-27).

    Third-party candidates:

  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 1 (USA Today/CNN/Gallup Oct. 30-Nov. 1).
  • Nader 5 to Buchanan 1 (Reuters/MSNBC Oct. 30-Nov. 1).
  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (ABC News Oct. 30-Nov. 1).
  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (Washington Post Oct. 30-Nov. 1).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 2 (CBS News/New York Times Oct. 29-31).
  • Nader 3 to Buchanan 1 (Pew Center for the People and the Press Oct. 25-29).
  • Nader 4 to Buchanan 2 (Newsweek Oct. 25-27).

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  • By Anthony York

    Anthony York is Salon's Washington correspondent.

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