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Release: Nov. 2, 2000

UI Heartland Poll gives Bush a narrow lead, but shows momentum favors Gore

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore are in a "virtual dead heat" in four Midwest battleground states, but the current momentum seems to favor Gore, according to the 2000 Heartland Poll from the University of Iowa.

The Heartland Poll, created and directed by Arthur H. Miller, a UI professor of political science and director of the Iowa Social Science Institute, is the only political opinion poll to focus solely on Midwest voters. The poll gathers data from voters in seven Midwest states -- Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The poll shows a close race in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin, with 38 percent of voters preferring Bush and 37 percent favoring Gore. Of the remaining voters, 18 percent are undecided, 5 percent favor Ralph Nader, and 2 percent favor another candidate.

For the entire seven states included in the Heartland Poll, Bush leads Gore by four percentage points (43 percent to 39 percent) Ralph Nader gets 4 percent, the other candidates receive 2 percent, and 12 percent remain undecided.

Although Bush maintains a narrow lead in the race, the poll shows that momentum appears to be with Gore as he has closed the gap between himself and his challenger in the last month.

"Within the past week, as the Gore campaign increased its activity and appearances in the Midwest, Gore has gained support and pulled slightly ahead among respondents most recently interviewed," Miller said.

Among those interviewed most recently (Oct. 24-Nov. 1) 40 percent favored Gore and 37 percent favored Bush. In interviews in early October (Oct. 5-15), 34 percent favored Gore and 43 percent favored Bush.

The poll shows that undecided voters, who could hold the key to the election outcome, tend to be more Independent (44 percent) relative to those who have already made their candidate choice. They also tend to be female (61 percent.). Undecided who have a partisan attachment favor the Democratic Party over the Republican Party (34 percent to 22 percent respectively).

Miller said his poll is unique not only in its Midwest focus, but also in attempting to find out why this year's race has remained so close right up to the end.

"While many polls have demonstrated the closeness of the presidential election, very few have focused on explaining why the race is close," he said. "Our Heartland Poll offers analysis aimed at providing this explanation."

The poll looks at recent trends in partisanship and examines related differences in the turnout, partisan loyalty, gender voting and the appeal of Ralph Nader for Democrats and Republicans. It offers an assessment of how potential voters judge the candidates with respect to various character traits, such as leadership, morality and compassion, as well as perceived effectiveness in dealing with international crises. Finally, it examines the perceived liberal/conservative ideological orientation of the candidates, as well as their articulated positions on a number of issues that have been discussed throughout the campaign.

Miller can be reached in his campus office at (319) 335-2328. To read the full Heartland Poll report, go to .