Americans can wait, but think George will win

The Voters
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The Independent US

They may be baffled and not a little embarrassed by the failure of their electoral system to deliver a clear victor in this year's presidential derby, but so far, at least, the American people appear to be remarkably sanguine about the delay and all the goings-on in Florida. That is good news for Al Gore especially.

They may be baffled and not a little embarrassed by the failure of their electoral system to deliver a clear victor in this year's presidential derby, but so far, at least, the American people appear to be remarkably sanguine about the delay and all the goings-on in Florida. That is good news for Al Gore especially.

How long will their patience last, however? That is the crucial question, especially for the Democrat team as it weighs its next steps in the legal battle over the status of the count in the Sunshine State. They may have only until next Thursday, which is Thanksgiving Day and the start of a four-day holiday.

Most worrying for the Vice-President is a perception among most Americans that he is unlikely to win this fight. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released yesterday showed 47 per cent of those questioned believed George W Bush will be the next US president. Only 24 per cent said the same for Mr Gore.

Still, few Americans seem inclined to support Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State, who is attempting to drop a guillotine on the struggle and certify a winner this Saturday without recourse to hand counts. A slight plurality in the same poll, 39 per cent, said it was too soon to declare a winner in Florida, while 36 per cent said Mr Bush should be named the winner now, against 19 per cent for Mr Gore.

Even in Florida, which finds itself the butt of jokes around the globe, forbearance still reigns. Asked if they were happy to wait until the weekend for a result, 71 per cent of people in the state said that would be fine. That number fell sharply to just 36 per cent, however, if the wait were to last several weeks.

There is also evidence that this campaign has gripped the American people to a degree not seen for some time. A separate survey showed that most voters felt they were better informed about this race - even before the Florida fiasco - than any for the last 12 years.

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