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Poll: McCain beats Gore in head-to-head match-up

By Keating Holland/CNN

December 13, 1999
Web posted at: 5:40 p.m. EST (2240 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Good news for Arizona Senator John McCain: a majority of Americans now have a favorable opinion of him and would choose him over Vice President Al Gore in a two-way presidential match-up, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Texas Governor George W. Bush continues to be the Republican Party's presidential front-runner, currently winning the support of 64 percent of all registered voters who consider themselves Republicans.

But Bush loses half his support when GOP voters are asked to speculate how they would vote if McCain were to win some early primaries. Under those hypothetical circumstances, the race between McCain and Bush would be close, with Bush holding a thin 37 percent-34 percent lead.

The same is not true on the Democratic side. Gore currently wins support from 54 percent of registered Democrats, to 40 percent for former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. When asked how they would vote if Bradley won some early primaries, the race would be almost identical -- 52 percent for Gore to 41 percent for Bradley.

This suggests that Bush's support is based in part on the perception that he is a winner, and might fade in the aftermath of several early-season losses. Gore's current supporters, by contrast, appear more strongly committed to him and may stick with him despite any early setbacks.

The poll, however, indicates a weakness for Gore: Bradley currently appears more electable than the vice president. If the election were held today (and, as always, remember the election is over 10 months away), Bush would win 51 percent of all registered voters compared to 45 percent for Bradley. That puts Bradley in a slightly better position against Bush, who beats Gore by a 55 percent-42 percent margin.

McCain also tops Gore in a hypothetical two-way match-up, winning 52 percent to Gore's 44 percent. McCain's newfound strength is due to Americans knowing more about him, and in this case, familiarity breeds respect. In October, 51 percent of all Americans were unfamiliar with McCain; now that figure is down to 31 percent. The number who have a favorable view of him has risen by an identical amount -- 20 points -- in the same period of time, indicating that nearly all Americans who have learned about McCain in the past few weeks have learned to like him.

The poll is based on interviews with 1,037 adult Americans, including 899 registered voters. It was conducted December 9-12.

Republican Voters' Choice for Nomination

Bush64%
McCain18
Forbes7
Keyes4
Hatch2
Bauer2
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

Republican Voters' Choice for Nomination

 BushMcCain
Now64%18%
November6316
October6611
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

Republican Voters' Choice If McCain Wins Early Primaries

Bush37%
McCain34
Forbes10
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP POLL
December 9-12

Opinion of John McCain

 NowDecember
Favorable57%37%
Unfavorable1112
Unsure3151
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Democratic Voters' Choice for Nomination

Gore54%
Bradley40
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

Democratic Voters' Choice for Nomination

 GoreBradley
Now54%40%
November5634
October5633
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

Democratic Voters' Choice If Bradley Wins Early Primaries

Gore52%
Bradley41
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

Registered Voters' Choice in 2000

Bush55%
Gore42
Sampling error: +/-4% pts

Registered Voters' Choice in 2000

McCain52%
Gore44
Sampling error: +/-4% pts

Registered Voters' Choice in 2000

Bush51%
Bradley45
Sampling error: +/-4% pts

Does Bush know enough about world affairs? Last month, about half the public thought so; now Americans are split, 44 percent-44 percent over whether the Texas governor knows enough about international issues to make a good president.

Bush scores higher, however, on domestic issues, with two-thirds or more saying he knows enough about education and economic policy to be a good president. Al Gore scores as highly on education and the economy, and a solid 58 percent say he knows enough about world matters. Overall, the public thinks both men have the knowledge and experience necessary to be President, with 57 percent saying that about Gore and 64 percent about Bush.

Does Bush Know Enough About World Affairs?

 NowNovember
Yes44%49%
No4440
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Knows Enough About World Affairs?

 GoreBush
Yes58%44%
No3344
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Bush Knows Enough About...

Education69%
Economy65
World affairs44
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Gore Knows Enough About...

Education70%
Economy63
World affairs58
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

Has the Necessary Knowledge and Experience?

 YesNo
Bush64%30%
Gore5741
Sampling error: +/-3% pts

ELECTION 2000

Bush says national campaign strategy may account for lower New Hampshire poll numbers (12-9-99)

Des Moines Register: Candidates will question each other in Iowa debate (12-9-99)

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Monday, December 13, 1999

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