Bradley Gets a Bounce In the Granite State

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Too bad Bill Bradley isn’t running for president of the Northeast. The onetime long shot is making big strides in the land of the liberal Democratic elite, drawing even with Al Gore in New York and Massachusetts, and – perhaps central to his win-early-and-grab-the-spotlight strategy – has pulled ahead of the stony veep in the Granite State. According to the latest TIME/CNN poll, likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire favor Bradley over Gore by 44 percent to 41 percent (15 percent weren't sure, and 3 percent seem to be holding out for Warren Beatty). Yet among Democrats nationwide, the more visible veep still holds a 53-29 cushion – jibing neatly with recent state polls in Iowa and California that show Gore with leads from 20 to 40 percent. Can Bradley make good once the primaries head west?

Pat Moynihan apparently thinks so – the retiring New York senator endorsed Bradley on Thursday, saying Gore was a good man but "can’t be elected." (A sharp-tongued Gore aide said of the endorsement, "I'm sure President Bob Kerrey appreciated his support in 1992.") Yet the same famously maverick New Hampshirites who prefer Bradley don’t seem to agree – 49 percent give Gore a better shot to beat Bush, 38 percent would lay down on Dollar Bill. (That spread widens to 59-34 nationwide.) The numbers back up Bradley’s natural advantages; in New Hampshire and nationwide, more think he’s "not a typical politician," more think Gore is "too close to Clinton," and more, in New Hampshire at least, would rather have Bradley over for dinner. (For Democrats nationwide, Gore somehow wins this one.)

Bradley admitted to Moynihan that as a Democrat he’s "up against an establishment" that favors Gore, but Bill knows that the mediaestablishment covers New Hampshire as if it were the Oracle of Delphi. If it’s only publicity he needs (30 percent of Democrats nationwide are "unfamiliar" with Bradley, as opposed to only 5 percent for Gore), the immediate vicinity of the media elite is a great place to start.