The Corner

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Election ’02 FlashMomentum Switch in South


The latest batch of polls in southern gubernatorial and Senate races suggest that, on balance, Republican prospects are brightening. Jeb Bush is back out to an 8-point lead in Florida against Democrat Bill McBride. Republican Mark Sanford now has a slight edge against South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges. In Georgia, Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes and Sen. Max Cleland still lead their Republican challengers, but not by much. In North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole’s lead over Erskine Bowles continues to shrink in the public polls, but I am told that the GOP campaign’s private polling has begun to show an uptick. In Tennessee, Lamar Alexander’s lead for the Senate seat has “dropped” to 10 points; more importantly, one of two media polls released this week put Republican Van Hilleary slightly above Phil Bredeson in a governor’s race that many observers had thought was a likely Democratic pick-up just a few weeks ago. Only bad news for the GOP is that embattled Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman has closed the gap in his reelection bid against Republican Bob Riley. Given what’s going on elsewhere in the country, Republicans might feel a bit relieved at the turnaround in Dixie — but the outcomes remain in serious doubt because of the Democrats’ demonstrated superiority in getting out the vote.