WASHINGTON -- George W. Bush has built a double-digit lead over Al Gore in a new bipartisan poll, getting more credit as the presidential candidate who would keep America prosperous and showing strength among groups Gore needs to win.
Bush, the Republican governor of Texas, had 52 percent support among likely voters in the Voter.com-Battleground poll released Thursday, while Gore had 40 percent. Bush had a 6-point lead in May. Bush also led, 49 percent to 41 percent, in an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday.
Gore strategists noted that the Voter.com-Battleground poll was completed before the launch of his ''progress and prosperity'' tour of key states to tout the economic record of the Clinton-Gore years. The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll also was done last week, a few days into the tour.
At Gore campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., advisers said they were unworried, and highlighted the past three days of generally positive news coverage of Gore's retirement savings plan and denunciation of huge oil company profits at a time of soaring gas prices.
''Al Gore has the right message,'' said communications director Mark Fabiani. ''He's an experienced, determined candidate and the campaign is ready for the election in the fall.''
Gore pollster Harrison Hickman regularly conducts his own private surveys and campaign officials privately voiced confidence that the message of Gore's ''prosperity tour'' is getting out and moving voters in numbers that will show up in subsequent public polls.
But the Battleground poll, conducted by Democrat Celinda Lake and Republican Ed Goeas, highlighted a continuing area of concern for the vice president: He is not performing well enough with key voter groups he needs to win in November.
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