Archive: Harrison Hickman

Democratic Pollster Harrison Hickman has the answers to your questions. A key strategist in the Gore campaign, Hickman knows more about polling and the Democratic party than just about everyone. Veteran CBS News White House Correspondent Bill Plante brings a top political expert into the Smoke-Filled Room each week to answer your questions.

Plante: Our first viewer, Marie writes, “How much of a help or hindrance is Joe Lieberman to the ticket? Have the polls changed drastically since he was named? Can polls accurately measure how much his religion matters to voters?”

Hickman: The polls are never going to be able to measure the deepest prejudices people have, but there’s no evidence that Joe Lieberman’s name being added to the ticket is anything but a positive. Most national polls have Gore-Lieberman back at the same level they were before the Republican convention. So rather than having to use the Democratic convention to catch up, which is often the case, we’re able to use the Democratic convention to move up.

Plante: ”What kind of impact are Bill and Hillary Clinton having on the Gore campaign?” writes Joe T. “They seem to be constantly upstaging him.”

Hickman: Any President is going to have an influence on the way his Vice President is seen, but it is a diminishing role as the campaign goes on. Thursday night will mark, for many voters, the first time they’ve been able to see Al Gore on his own, outside the shadow of Bill Clinton. That’s the way they’ll end up voting for him. They’ll vote for him, up or down, based on how they feel for Al Gore, with very little relationship to how they feel about Bill or Hillary Clinton.

Plante: ”Do you think Hillary Clinton will win the Senate race? If so, by how much?” asks Linda.

Hickman: Yes. Closer than Democrats usually win, but a win is a win.

Plante: Paul asks “What do today’s voters see as the number one issue in the campaign?”

Hickman: The number one issue in the campaign is education. The number two issue is social security. The number three issue is health care. All three of those are Democratic issues.

Plante:”What effect will Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan and John Hagelin have in the Presidential race?” Dana is curious.

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Hickman: The two major alternative party candidates are going to roughly offset
an impact. At the end of the day, Buchanan and Nader together will draw equally from Gore and Bush. They may help Gore some slightly in some states, but they may also help Bush in some states. The net effect is no effect at all.

Plante: Aimee wants to know “What kind of “bounce” in the polls should Gore get by the end of the convention. Will he be able to overtake Bush?”

Hickman: We would like to be within the margin of sampling error coming out of the convention. You won’t really be able to measure it until next week, but we hope to be back into a very competitive race – about where the race was during much of the spring.

Plante: What is the sampling error?

Hickman: We should be plus or minus 2 or 3 points I would think, coming into next weekend. (Aug.25-27)

About Bill Plante
Bill Plante is a three-time Emmy Award winner who joined the CBS News Washington Bureau in 1976. He has been covering national elections since 1968. In 1984, he was part of a CBS News team that captured an Emmy for coverage of Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election campaign. Plante is one of the most knowledgeable and respected political correspondents in Washington. (He'll do just about anything, including bungee jumping, to get a good story.)