WASHINGTON -- Al Gore has toured key battleground states with a reminder of the nation's prosperity, and Democrats have spent more than $11 million in pro-Gore advertising in recent weeks. But so far there are few tangible rewards.
The latest bit of bad news for the vice president is from Michigan, where a statewide presidential poll of 600 likely voters showed Republican George W. Bush with 46 percent and Democrat Gore with 34 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader took 8 percent and Reform Party hopeful Pat Buchanan had 3 percent. In May, Bush and Gore were very close in a Michigan survey by the same pollster.
Between those polls, the Democratic National Committee spent more than $1 million on TV ads in Michigan to promote Gore. The vice president launched the ''prosperity tour,'' announced a retirement savings plan and began an offensive on Midwest gas prices as part of a message makeover. Michigan is a top target for both Bush and Gore in their search for state electoral votes and the presidency.
''Bush's number remained unchanged. The only drop has been from Gore, and those votes went to Buchanan or Ralph Nader,'' said Ed Sarpolus, whose firm Epic-MRA conducted the poll for the Detroit Free Press. ''Gore has a lot of work to do.''
In Kentucky and New Jersey, two states that should be competitive, polls taken in recent weeks have shown no signs of movement in Gore's direction. Gore remained down by 14 points in Kentucky and he and Bush were about even in New Jersey.
Democratic activists predict the vice president's fortunes will change after voters return from summer vacations and begin paying more attention to the election campaigns. Yet even these allies concede Nader could be a problem.
''Ralph Nader is not going to win the election, but he can help Gore lose it and George Bush win it,'' said Debbie Dingell, chair of Gore's campaign in Michigan.
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