Bradley: It's Not 'Bill Who?' Anymore

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Al Gore may have landed Big Labor, but Bill Bradley’s still got Big Mo. Momentum, that is — the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll says Bradley has pulled to within 12 points of the veep nationwide – 51 percent for Gore, 39 percent for Bradley as opposed to 63-30 a month ago. The breakdown shows signs that Bradley is cutting into all the leads that matter to him most, such as the non-Northeast vote (among western Democrats, Bradley’s up 16 points) and the ordinary-Joe vote (once almost exclusively a favorite of the rich and cranky liberal, Bradley posted a 22-point gain among Democrats who make between $30,000 and 50,000 a year). As to why folks like him more, it seems to be a simple case of more folks knowing who the heck he is.

That may come back to the rich and cranky liberals. "Bradley’s campaign has gotten its big boosts after the fund-raising numbers come out," says TIME Washington correspondent Jay Branegan. The latest batch, which showed that Bradley pulled even with the veep for the quarter and has more in the bank, hit the papers about two weeks ago. Throw in a round of consequent national ink, and you can see why Bradley’s un-familiarity rating has plummeted from 42 percent in September to 27 percent today. That translates directly to the jump in Bradley’s favorable rating, now neck-and-neck with Gore’s. (His unfavorability rating has also jumped, but not as much.) Ask people why (at least these 976 people), and they come up with the same reasons that have dogged Gore from the start: Bradley’s more likely to be politically independent and change government, and less likely to be like Bill Clinton. And such voter concerns are not normally assuaged by an AFL-CIO endorsement.