Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Voters Prefer Bush over Gore to Handle the Mideast Crisis

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Voters Prefer Bush over Gore to Handle the Mideast Crisis

Article excerpt

Americans worry that renewed violence in the oil-rich Middle East could slow the red-hot US economy. But the threat of a Mideast war - so far - has not dramatically affected voter preferences in the presidential race.

The latest Christian Science Monitor/ TIPP poll of 800 likely voters found a sizable minority, 40 percent, are concerned that Mideast tensions could eventually cripple the economy in the United States.

The poll, one of the first to sample American opinion following the presumed attack on the USS Cole, also found that Republican George W. Bush improved his standing as a leader on foreign-policy issues after the last presidential debate.

While many Americans worry about the economic impact of Mideast troubles, only 8 percent of voters say the outbreak of war there could change their vote in the US presidential race.

The Monitor/TIPP poll, conducted Oct. 13 to 15, also found a small shift in the tight contest between Vice President Al Gore and Governor Bush of Texas. Among the poll's results:

* Bush moved into a slight lead, 44 percent to 42 percent, over Mr. Gore. A week ago, Bush had trailed the vice president by 43 percent to 42 percent. In both cases, the lead was within the survey's margin of error.

* Bush won the second presidential debate by 39 percent to 22 percent, according to those surveyed.

* Gore maintains his support from women (47 percent to 39 percent over Bush), but the governor outdistances Gore with men (50 percent to 35 percent).

* Third-party candidates get a small but potentially important slice of the vote, particularly in the West and Northeast. Overall, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader gets 3 percent, while Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party and Harry Browne of the Libertarian Party get 1 percent each nationwide.

When voters were asked about Mideast violence, they expressed frustration. Ronald Marx, a Bush supporter from Colorado Springs, Colo., says:

"I think it's clear neither Bush nor Gore have the credentials to form peace in the Middle East.... They both like to govern and develop policy based on public opinion, but leaders in the Middle East don't operate that way. …

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