Wed, 23 Aug 2000

Poll puts Democrat's Gore ahead

By Klaus Brill

WASHINGTON: The U.S. presidential campaign is a long hard slog and the majority of American voters obviously finds the whole affair a bit of a bore. The general public only really wakes up to events during the party conventions, which receive saturation television coverage. For this reason, more often than not, candidates from both major parties can look forward to a boost in the polls in the aftermath of their nominating speeches.

Two weeks ago it was the Republican nominee, George W. Bush, who reaped the benefit of the challengers' convention and now it is the turn of the Democrat, Vice-President Al Gore. According to a poll published in the weekly magazine Newsweek, Gore has overtaken his opponent for the first time since June and leads Bush with 48 percent to 42.

These figures should be treated with caution. Firstly, because surveys of this sort are prone to inaccuracies and secondly, because the popularity boost which follows a convention has often proved to be very short-lived.

However, although Gore can by no means be said to be home and dry, it would appear he has succeeded in countering a few of the doubts which have been clouding his candidacy.

In the eyes of many Americans, Gore has emerged from the shadow of President Bill Clinton. He has significantly strengthened his appeal to Democratic bedrock supporters by portraying himself as a pioneer fighting for working families.

It is more than likely that Gore benefited from his decision to tackle head-on his lack of charisma during his nominating speech, and otherwise to limit his subject matter to policy issues only. He is now considered trustworthy and it is clear that, in terms of policy, he is more competent than Bush.

Gore's speech marked the beginning of the next phase in the campaign, which is now geared toward the live television debates to be held in October. Now the fight for the most important political post in the world is finally hotting up.