Exit poll numbers reflect close race in state

By LUIS CABRERA

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Al Gore was getting strong support from moderates and minority voters in Washington state today, while George W. Bush led among white men, rural voters and those with some college but no degree.

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Sen. Slade Gorton was supported by men and seniors, and Democratic challenger Maria Cantwell got the nod from working women and moderate voters in a tightly contested race.

Incumbent Gov. Gary Locke’s victory over Republican John Carlson was powered by broad support, including nearly two-thirds from women and one in five among self-described conservatives.

In the presidential race, Green candidate Ralph Nader received about the same single-digit level of support as in pre-election polls, despite a furious late push by the Gore campaign to bring Greens back into the fold.

But Gore got more than half of women and self-described moderates, while Bush received the nod from fewer than 40 percent in both groups, according to preliminary exit poll results from Voter News Service, a partnership of The Associated Press and television networks.

“I’m scared to death what will happen to women and the environment if Republicans win,” said Peggy Boyle, 50, a Seattle yoga instructor interviewed after voting.

Gore scored support on the issues almost across the board, as voters said they favored his policy stances on medicare, health care, the economy and education.

Bush got strong support from those who cited a tax cut as the most important campaign issue. Of those who cited honesty as the most important personal quality in a candidate, about eight in 10 favored Bush, as did those who said they wanted strong leadership.

“I think I trust him more, and I think it’s time for a change,” said Jana Foushee, 45, a Bellevue homemaker.

More than eight in 10 of those who stressed the importance of a candidate’s experience favored Gore, and nearly three-quarters of those who stressed a candidate’s ability to understand complex issues also chose the Democrat.

Gore campaign ads in Washington keyed on Bush’s environmental record as governor of Texas, and more than two-thirds of those who favored protecting the environment over promoting job growth in Washington said they voted for Gore.

“He has a focus on the environment,” said Andrea Lunde, 33, of Seattle. “He knows global warming is real.”

About two-thirds of those who favored job growth over environmental protection said they voted for Bush.

Gore’s ties to President Clinton, who made a Gore campaign stop in the weeks leading to the election, were on some voter’s minds. More than a third of those who approved of Clinton’s job performance but disapproved of his personal conduct said they voted for Bush.

“I’m real disappointed with what happened with President Clinton,” said Mary Jo Loughran, 49, a Bellevue registered nurse. “I don’t think there is a lot of integrity with those two people.”

Gore stressed the booming economy of the last several years in his Washington campaign stops, and nearly two-thirds of those who said their own financial situation had improved since 1996 favored the vice president.

Those whose situation had worsened favored Bush by about the same margin, and more than half of those whose situation was the same also voted for Bush.

Bush got strong support from the religious right, but he split about evenly with Gore those making more than $100,000 per year. He also was favored by those age 30-44, but Gore got the nod from the 18-29 and 45-59 groups, while the candidates were close to even among seniors.

Voter News Service, a partnership of The Associated Press and the ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC television networks, conducted the poll among 1,123 Washington state voters. Most voters were interviewed today as they left 30 randomly selected polling places around the state; 311 others were interviewed by telephone Oct. 28-Nov. 4 so the sample would include people who voted early or by absentee ballot. The phone poll was conducted by the Ohio State University Center for Survey Research. The sampling error margin for each result was plus or minus 4 percentage points for all voters, higher for subgroups.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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