Gore Grabs 13-Point Lead In Calif.

Democratic candidates Al Gore and Joe Lieberman have taken a 13-point lead over Republicans George Bush and Dick Cheney in California, according to a new poll.

The Field Poll, released Thursday, said the Gore-Lieberman ticket leads Bush-Cheney by 50 percent to 37 percent among likely California voters.

Republicans were heartened earlier this month by a Public Policy Institute of California poll taken during the GOP National Convention that showed Bush and Gore in a statistical dead heat among likely California voters.

The last Field Poll, taken in June before both parties held their conventions, showed Gore with a 46-35 percent lead over Bush.

Gore Surges In Michigan, Minnesota, And New Jersey

In Michigan, a survey of 600 likely voters conducted Aug. 20-22 for the Detroit Free Press put Gore ahead 44 percent to 42 percent. Factoring in a 4 percent margin of error, the race in the battleground state was a statistical dead heat.

Gore had trailed Bush by 8 percentage points in Michigan immediately after the Republican convention in the first week of August.

In Minnesota, a statewide poll conducted for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, KARE-TV and Minnesota Public Radio, showed Gore with 48 percent and Bush with 40 percent. A poll last month showed Bush with 43 percent and Gore with 40 percent.

And in New Jersey, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted just after the Democratic National Convention showed Gore leading Bush 52 percent to 38 percent in a two-way race. A month ago, a similar Quinnipiac poll had the race narrowing to just a 5 percentage point lead for the Democratic nominee, from earlier double-digit margins.

Meanwhile, support for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader has started to fade in the Golden State.

Nader, the consumer rights activist some Democratic strategists feared would siphon off a significant part of state's liberal vote, saw support decline to 4 percent from 7 percent in June, according to the poll.

All other minor party candidates, including Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, pull just 2 percent of the vote, unchanged since June. The number of undecided voters climbed to 10 percent from 7 percent.

The Field Poll found that both Bush and Gore are being harmed by the men they seek to succeed.

Nearly four in 10 likely voters said Gore's ties to President Clinton made them view Gore less favorably, despite Clinton's historic popularity among Californians. A quarter said the link to Clinton gave them a more favorable view of Gore.

About one-third felt less favorably toward Bush because of his ties to his father, former President Bush, but the same proportion said they feel more favorably.

While Bush and Gore have each aggressively courted Hispanic voters, that bloc favored the ice president more than 2-1.

Gore and Bush enjoyed equal levels of support among California whites, but Gore commanded 92 percent of the black vote in the survey. And Gore leads among California women, 55-34 percent.

While Bush officials voiced confidence after the March 7 primary that the Texas governor would pick up the support of those who voted for Arizona Sen. John McCain, Bush enjoys only a slight edge among McCain voters.

The poll questioned 869 likely voters in California Aug. 18-22, and had an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.