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CNN Today

Gallup Poll: Bush, Gore Maintain Front-Runner Status for Party Nominations; McCain Appealing Across Political Spectrum

Aired February 29, 2000 - 1:28 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our latest polling gives Republicans in general, and George W. Bush in particular, reason for hope.

Frank Newport joins us now from the Gallup studio in Princeton, New Jersey, with that -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Natalie, indeed, the real distinction in our polling is between Republicans and other people, when we are talking about Republican candidates. That's what makes this race so fascinating.

Here is our latest information, which comes from polling conducted through Sunday night. On the top there, you find these are Republicans nationally, these choices -- first choice for the nominee. And, you can see here, it's Bush by over 20 points over McCain. Really not a lot of change since the New Hampshire primary, when McCain came up some.

On the Democratic side, it's Al Gore dominating Bill Bradley here, ahead by 30 percentage points plus.

Now, Bush's lead among Republicans is what everybody is talking about. But it's John McCain's appeal to those independents and Democrats, which really are making the difference in this race.

Here's a very fascinating chart, which shows when we asked Americans, in general, to give us their favorable opinions about the key Republicans, Bush and McCain.

Now, over here are Republicans on the left-hand side, rating Bush and then McCain. Both have positive opinions, get positive ratings. You can see, Bush is actually a little higher. Look at independents in the middle: Bush comes down, but McCain not nearly so much so.

And what's really dramatic over here is among Democrats, only 33 have a favorable opinion of Bush. But, look here: You've got 61 percent with a favorable opinion of John McCain. McCain doing very, very well across independents and Democrats. In fact, that 61 percent is higher than the opinion Democrats give their own, Bill Bradley.

What does all this translate to? Well, if we asked Americans: Who would you vote for next fall if it were McCain versus Gore? McCain wins, overwhelmingly, more than 20 points. The reason is, he's really pulling in those independents and Democrats, doing a lot better now than George Bush would against Al Gore.

We'll see what happens today in those three primaries and, of course, next week on Super Tuesday. And we'll keep our fingers on the pulse of what's happening in America.

Back to you in Atlanta.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Frank.

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