Washington (CNSNews.com) - Anyway you spin it, the latest non-partisan poll has to be an overall disappointment for Democrat Al Gore, who now trails Republican George W Bush by 12 points in the presidential race. The Bush lead has doubled in one month.
First, the good news for Gore: The Voter.com/Battleground 2000 June poll released Thursday shows one traditionally Democratic "must have" voter group that has solidified behind the vice president -African American voters now support Gore 81 percent to 15 percent for Bush, a 17 point gain since May.
Now the bad news:
Gore is lagging behind Bush in every other major voter category, except among Hispanics, where, according to both Democratic pollster Celinda Lake and Republican pollster Ed Goeas, his 12-point lead should be about twice as large.
"Overall, Hispanics still lean towards Al Gore (41 percent Bush/53 percent Gore), but Bush is outperforming traditional Republican candidates," said Goeas.
Another troubling aspect to the Hispanic vote for Gore is what Lake termed an "increasing apathy about the nearing election." Only 51 percent of Hispanics polled say they are likely to vote this November, down from 58 percent in May.
Even among union voters, another traditional Democratic bastion, Gore trails Bush by one point.
"Core Democratic constituencies are becoming less engaged rather than more engaged," said Lake.
Bush, on the other hand, is garnering strong support from his core constituencies: Men, who prefer Bush 58 percent to 35 percent over Gore; white women, Bush 52 percent/ Gore 39 percent, and Reagan Democrats with Bush leading Gore, 54 percent to 36 percent.
Overall, Bush leads Gore among women voters, 47 percent to 45 percent, a key voter group for Gore if he is to win in November.
Lake says that Gore's weak showing in the poll is due primarily to early voter apathy. She expects the race to tighten after the party conventions in August.
"In the doldrums of early summer, voters - particularly Democratic voters - have turned their attention away from politics and, as a result, Al Gore's campaign is in a lull," said Lake. "I think this race has the ingredients to close very rapidly," she added.
Goeas believes that the Gore campaign is at a crucial point and that Gore has alienated many voters, including his core constituencies, by failing to define himself as a candidate.
"This is a campaign in deep trouble. [It] is on the verge of losing credibility. By last count, the Gore campaign has tried to 're-invent' candidate Al Gore five or six times," Goeas said.