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Published: Friday, 10/27/2000

Younger set leans toward Bush

VICE PRESIDENT Al Gore seems to be surging back a bit after a couple of weeks of struggling in public opinion polls. He should be glad he isn't at the mercy of the younger generation.

In a mock election taken at high schools across the country involving nearly 900,000 students, Texas Gov. George W. Bush won 59 per cent of the vote, compared with just 36 per cent for Mr. Gore.

The vote was conducted online by Channel One, the in-school news network that feeds stories to students in their classrooms nationwide.

It also showed that the students seem to have little appetite for alternative candidates.

The Green Party's Ralph Nader, who tends to do well on college campuses because of his pro-labor, pro-environment stands, won just 4 per cent of the vote. Patrick Buchanan of the Reform Party won just 1 per cent, which makes sense.

Young people have not been around long enough to have a dispute with the IRS or to face drawn-out troubles with an auto maker or an employer. Mr. Buchanan does really well among people who have a beef with authority figures.

The vote was the culmination of a nine-month education effort by Channel One to teach kids about politics.


A SURVEY of Muslims conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington, shows that more of its members give the presidential nod to Mr. Bush by a 40 per cent to 24 per cent margin.

In fact, the survey shows Muslims give Mr. Nader a slight edge over Mr. Gore in the race. He wins 25 per cent support.

The wide gap between Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore is somewhat surprising, given that, by a 27 per cent to 24 per cent margin, respondents said they trust Democrats more than Republicans to best represents their interests.

Not surprising is that 90 per cent of respondents said they intended to vote in the Nov. 7 election, compared with the national average of about 50 per cent. Locally, Arab-American organizations are showing increased political sophistication.

In key states like Ohio and Michigan, they could turn the election.


Meanwhile, Catholic leaders believe they are to be the key swing demographic in the election next month. And, Steve Wagner, executive director of the Catholic Task Force of the Republican National Committee, said a poll his group commissioned shows parishioners are turning away from the Democratic Party and toward the GOP. Don't be distracted by his partisan leanings - other experts echo his sentiments, an article in the Catholic Register indicates.

The switch comes largely because of Mr. Gore's ardent support of abortion rights.

According to the Register, Ray Flynn, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said Mr. Bush “has managed to be more pro-life than Mr. Gore even on the death penalty.”

He said that both men are strong supporters of the punishment, but that Mr. “Gore one-upped [Mr.] Bush recently by saying that it should be legal to execute pregnant women.”


The Middle Passage PAC, a group organized to promote the interests of local African-Americans, has endorsed Republican Roger Baker for Lucas County engineer.

“It was Roger Baker that brought to the PAC's attention the intolerably low number of African-American employees represented in the engineer's office,” a press release from the group said.

The PAC, which represents the interests of blacks in northwest Ohio, usually endorses Democrats, but this race is different. “We believe that a person's party affiliation is far less important than what issues they marshal and their effectiveness in their position,” it said.

Richard Mitchell, a Toledo lawyer who is president of the PAC, said he has not received a satisfactory explanation from incumbent Democrat Keith Earley about the lack of minorities in his office.

He said in a letter to the PAC that he would look into the matter, but he mostly blamed his predecessor, George Wilson, for the low level of minority employees.

A spokeswoman for the engineer's office recently said there is one black among the 40 or so office staff.

While Paula Ross, chairwoman of the Lucas County Democratic Party, usually welcomes Middle Passage PAC endorsements for her candidates, she discounted the importance of the PAC's endorsement of Mr. Baker during a radio interview on WSPD-AM this week, a response that Mr. Mitchell said he found less than endearing.


Chuck Larkins, elections supervisor of the county board of elections, said that requests for absentee ballots for the Nov. 7 election are down somewhat compared with four years ago. That translates, he said, into lower turnout at the polls this year, despite the fact that there is a contentious race for president.

It may also indicate local partisans are not getting their bases as excited as they should be. The development is unusual.

Fritz Wenzel covers politics for The Blade. Email him at fritz@theblade.com.



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