The Fat Lady Hasn't Quite Sung

The race tightens in the final lap, as both Bush and Perot gain ground on Clinton. But the Democrat's grip on an electoral-vote majority will be hard to break.

NEARLY A MONTH AGO, when her candidate appeared to be coasting to victory, Clinton adviser Susan Thomases walked into a Little Rock strategy session with two charts. One showed Jimmy Carter ahead of Ronald Reagan by four points late in the 1980 race, which the Republican challenger went on to win by a margin of nine. The second display recalled the 1976 contest, in which Carter's seemingly prohibitive advantage over Jerry Ford shrank to two points by Election Day. Thomases' fear: complacency bred by favorable numbers might lead to a November surprise. George Bush's analysts, meanwhile, were also studying the 1976...

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