Al & Dubya <i>ThisClose</i> Again

The former Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, Lord Stevens, delivers the long-awaited official British police report into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in London Thursday Dec. 14, 2006. The inquiry concluded that the deaths of Princess Diana and her companion in a 1997 Paris car crash were a "tragic accident."
AP Photo/Sang Tan
Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore is clinging to a narrow nationwide lead over Republican rival George W. Bush, while the vice president's positions on key issues remain more popular than the candidate himself.

According to a Newsweek poll released Saturday, Gore leads the Texas governor 46 to 42 percent. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader drew the support of 2 percent of respondents, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan won the backing of 1 percent, and 9 percent were undecided or favored some other minor candidate.

The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points - the exact margin between Gore and Bush. In an interview with CBS News, Newsweek's polling director David Alpern said Gore's "clinging to the remnants of [his convention] bounce, but he remains marginally ahead."

The poll also found women backing Gore 51 to 36 percent and men supporting Bush 48 to 40 percent. The survey concluded that white, non-Hispanic voters backed Bush 48 to 41 percent while black, Hispanic and all other voters combined backed Gore 61 to 21 percent over Bush.

Among all respondents, in a two-way trial with other candidates excluded, Gore led Bush 49 to 45 percent.

A week ago, a Newsweek poll found Gore, fresh off the Democratic convention, leading Bush 48 to 42 percent, with 3 percent for Nader, 1 percent for Buchanan, with 6 percent undecided or backing someone else.

The latest poll found that Gore's stands on key issues in the campaign were more attractive to voters than Gore himself.

With no names attached to their respective proposals, Newsweek found that respondents agreed with Gore's ideas on tax cuts and on Social Security and retirement savings.

If taxes are to be cut, 55 percent of those questioned backed Gore's proposal for targeted cuts to help middle- and lower-income families pay for things such as college tuition and long-term health care, while 39 percent favored Bush's plan for an across-the-board tax cut affecting all Americans.

Similarly, those questioned agreed with Gore's position on using the budget surplus to pay down the federal debt and make Social Security and the Medicare health care program for the elderly financially solvent rather than cutting people's taxes - 66 to 27 percent.

The poll surveyed 753 registered voters who were questioned Thursday and Friday by Princeton Survey Research Associates.