Bush takes lead in presidential poll

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The Independent US

Republican George W. Bush leads Democrat Al Gore by 8 percentage points in the race for president, according to a nationwide poll in the Los Angeles Times.

Bush, the presumed Republican nominee, now leads the vice president, the presumed Democratic nominee, among registered voters by 51 per cent to Gore's 43 per cent, the poll showed. Five per cent of respondents said they didn't know who to vote for.

The poll surveyed 1,211 registered voters between May 4-7. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The figures changed little when participants were polled on Ralph Nader, the Green party nominee, and Patrick J. Buchanan, the likely Reform party nominee.

In the four-way matchup, Bush drew 47 per cent to Gore's 39 per cent, with 4 per cent for Nader and 3 per cent for Buchanan.

The poll also showed Texas governor Bush drawing 48 percent of women voters to Gore's 46 percent. Women voters have been a Democratic stronghold in recent years, with President Bill Clinton leading by 16 percentage points among women in the 1996 election, exit polling found.

Among men, Bush leads Gore by 55 per cent to 39 percent, and is even attracting about one-fifth of Democratic men.

Bush also has solidified a broad base of support among Republicans, while support for Gore among Democrats has weakened. Bush is winning about nine in ten Republican partisans, while Gore is winning only five of every six Democrats, the poll said.

In addition, Bush is successfully courting centrist swing voter groups, who were crucial to Clinton's two victories.

Among Democrats who consider themselves moderates or conservatives, Bush is taking one in five voters, while Gore is winning only one in seven moderate Republicans.

Bush leads among self-described independents overall by 16 percentage points, the poll found.