Sunday, September 03, 2000

Ohio a battleground state again

Bush remains slight favorite over Gore

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Ohio will be a classic battleground for the presidential campaign, with two independent political analysts giving Republican George W. Bush a slight edge over Democrat Al Gore as the race enters its final two months.

        Mr. Bush's Ohio support is ahead of Mr. Gore's at this point, but Mr. Gore is building momentum he carried from the Democratic National Convention last month, they said.

        However, Mr. Bush could be helped by other factors, especially the GOP's lock on state government, said John Green, director of the nonpartisan Ray C. Bliss Insti tute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron. Mr. Gore will need a big boost from organized labor to make up for it, said Herb Asher, a political science professor at Ohio State University for 30 years.

        Mr. Bush was favored by 4-6 percentage points in polls conducted just before the GOP convention, but that was down from the 8-12 point leads he held in previous polls. In a poll published today by the Columbus Dispatch, Mr. Bush held a 6 percentage point lead over Mr. Gore. The mail poll of 2,778 randomly selected registered Ohio voters was conducted from Aug. 25 through Friday. Its margin of error is 2 percentage points.

        Starting with 1976, when Democrat Jimmy Carter won Ohio over Republican Gerald Ford by 11,116 votes, Ohioans have voted three times for Democrats and three times for Republicans. No Republican has won the presidency without Ohio. And in the last century, Democrats won the White House without carrying the state just twice.

        It means that once again Ohio, along with other swing states such as Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania, will weigh heavily in the travel plans of Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore down the stretch. Each candidate has been in Ohio eight times this year, and Mr. Gore returns this week with a trip through Columbus and Cleveland.

        “I think it's going to be very close. This is one of these elections that there will not be a breakaway winner,” said Brian Hicks, chief of staff for Republican Gov. Bob Taft.


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