Washington Voters are generally satisfied with the country's direction but uneasy about presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush, part of the reason polls are still seesawing so close to Election Day.
Almost a fourth of the nation's voters are "swing voters," meaning they are only loosely committed and could still change their minds, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. That factor is causing the national polls to shift, most recently from a narrow Bush lead to a neck-and-neck race and back toward Bush in the closest presidential campaign in 40 years.
State polls are also fluctuating. Bush has edged ahead in one Florida poll, while two others show Gore 4 points up but within the error margin, according to three Florida polls released Wednesday. And in Illinois, Gore has regained the advantage. A California poll shows Gore's lead at 8 points in a state where he had a double-digit lead last month.
"It does appear that voter opinions are fluid and changing on a regular basis," said Jim Kane, chief pollster for the Florida Voter poll out Wednesday. "And state polls are always a little bit behind the national polls, which are measuring small changes as they happen, while state polls are taken over finite periods."
Image problems Gore's personality and Bush's inexperience in national politics are making it tough for either candidate to break the deadlock.
"Gore's personality has become a bigger negative than it was in September," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. "You would have to point to the debates as a cause of that."
But Kohut said Bush has yet to close the deal with a substantial number of voters.