In state polls taken after the Democratic National Convention, Al Gore has widened his lead in California, regained the lead in New Jersey, taken an edge in Minnesota and pulled even with George W. Bush in Michigan.
Gore’s progress in these key states reflects the “bounce” in national polls the Democratic presidential nominee received after last week’s convention. Such a bump can be temporary but also may suggest a shift in the state electoral landscape.
California, Michigan, Minnesota and New Jersey account for more than a third of the 270 electoral votes Gore needs to win in November. For months the electoral math has favored Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, as polls showed his advantage in many battleground states, including some that have leaned Democratic in past elections.
In California, Gore was at 50% to Bush’s 37% in a Field Poll, a bit wider than his 46%-to-35% lead in June. “It looks like the conventions pretty much canceled each other out,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
In New Jersey, Gore led 49% to 37% in the Quinnipiac Poll after Bush had pulled close in the state in recent months. In Michigan, Gore was even with Bush in an EPIC/MRA poll taken for the Detroit Free Press, with 44% to 42% for Bush, 3% for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and 1% for Reform Party hopeful Pat Buchanan. Bush was ahead 45% to 37% in that same poll in early August.
Gore had a 48%-to-40% edge in a Minnesota poll after he and Bush were tied last month.
Bush and Gore are running close in some national polls, with Gore slightly ahead in others.
A national poll of registered voters released Thursday by ICR of Media, Pa., had Gore at 44%, Bush 41%, Nader 6% and Buchanan 3%.
“The national polls taken after both conventions are historically a pretty good guide to the general election outcome,” said David Rhode, a political scientist at Michigan State University. “When the polls are very close, as they are now, you would expect a very close race.”
The ICR national poll of 807 registered voters was taken Aug. 18 through Tuesday and has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The Field Poll surveyed 869 likely California voters over the same period and has an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.