Monday, November 06, 2000

Poll: Bush clear winner in Ohio

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        George W. Bush appears to be on the verge of easily putting Ohio's 21 electoral votes back in the Republican column for the first time since his father did it 12 years ago, according to the final Ohio Poll.

        Mr. Bush will end up with 53 percent of the vote in Ohio, with 43 percent going to Vice President Al Gore, the poll projects.

        The poll was released Sunday night by the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Policy Research.

        The poll, conducted among 1,273 probable voters from Wednesday through Sunday, showed Mr. Bush's lead had jumped by 2 points over the last Ohio Poll released Oct. 7. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7

        percentage points.

        The poll also showed that U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican, should win easily over Democrat Ted Celeste. The poll showed Mr. DeWine with 63 percent and Mr. Celeste, 34 percent.

        The Gore campaign surged to within striking distance of Mr. Bush in the weeks after the Democratic National Convention.

        “They had an opportunity to close the gap right after the debates in October, but (the Gore campaign) started pulling advertising dollars out of the state, and they lost it,” said Eric Rademacher, director of the Ohio Poll.

        Once the Gore campaign stopped scheduling campaign stops in Ohio and started cutting back TV ads, “there really was no way they could catch Bush,” Mr. Rademacher said.

        The Gore campaign has been concerned that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader may draw votes away from Mr. Gore and could cost him the election. But Mr. Nader, with 3 percent, is not much of a factor in Ohio.

        Winning Ohio was a critical part of the Bush-Cheney campaign strategy, since no Republican presidential candidate has ever won the White House without capturing Ohio's electoral votes.

        Ohio has swung back and forth in presidential elections over the past quarter century, going to Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, swinging to Republicans Ronald Reagan and George Bush in the 1980s, and back to the Democrats in 1992 and 1996.

        Mr. Bush has led Mr. Gore in UC's Ohio Poll consistently since April, but the Republican's lead began growing a month ago.

        The results of UC's final Ohio Poll on the presidential race are in line with other statewide polls released over the weekend.

        The Columbus Dispatch's mail poll of 2,050 randomly selected voters, conducted Oct. 27 through Nov. 1, gave Mr. Bush a 10-percentage point lead over the Democrat, twice the margin of the previous Dispatch poll five weeks ago. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

        Mr. Bush held a 6-point lead over Mr. Gore in the Cleveland Plain Dealer's poll of 625 likely voters, conducted last Wednesday and Thursday. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.


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