Chat Transcript: Polling Unit Director Gary Langer

With Election Day only two months away, Al Gore and George W. Bush are running neck and neck with voters, but Gore retains a slight edge on key issues, according to a new ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll.

Is Bush now the "underdog" in the race? What is behind Gore's post-convention momentum? And how do the candidates stack up on policy issues and personal qualities? Joining us to discuss the latest poll results was ABCNEWS Polling Unit Director Gary Langer. Below is a transcript of the chat.

Moderator at 12:14pm ET

Check out the latest ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll about the presidential race.

Moderator at 2:01pm ET

Welcome, Gary Langer.

Gary Langer at 2:02pm ET

Hellooo everyone and thanks for coming by! 47-47. Wow.What can I tell you?

Cam Davis at 2:02pm ET

The day-to-day "likely voters" and/or "registered voters" polls seem to be very shallow. I believe the bigger picture — the electoral vote count — could and would show a more "precise" view of what will happen in November. Is there a way to show the current standings in the electoral vote across the country? I feel this would show Bush in a commanding lead with Gore needing either Penn., Ohio, GA, or FL to stay competitive. What do you think?

Gary Langer at 2:05pm ET

Lot of people have posted similar questions, Cam, and it's a good one. I have in front of me five recent estimates of the electoral vote. The one I think is best, produced by the crack ABC News Political Unit and posted elsewhere on this site, has Bush ahead in states with 234 electoral votes, Gore with 201 (270 to win). We can agree that is close, no?

We've also done an entirely poll-based analysis here at the ABC News Polling Unit, calculating the probable leader in each state on the basis of the latest state polls. These polls are of spotty quality and they're not all recent. But here's what the analysis shows: Bush, 224. Gore, 219. Close, no? And our latest national poll, as you know, has the race at 47-47 percent. Close. No?

Gregory Dworak at 2:05pm ET

How big of an issue is Gore's and Bush's views on choosing new Supreme Court justices? If Bush wins and appoints new judges to the court, wouldn't Roe v Wade and affirmative action be overturned? Could it be the Gore team is waiting to get closer to the election before they start attacking Bush on this issue? How aware is the American public of this issue, and do they care?

Gary Langer at 2:06pm ET

It's not a determinative issue for most people, Greg. We last asked about appointing Supreme Court justices in mid-July; out of 17 issues we tested, it ranked 15th in importance (with 44 percent saying it was "very important" in their vote choice). In this week's poll we tested abortion itself, and it finished in the same place: fifteenth in importance out of 17 issues (at 43 percent).

In analyzing theses numbers we've found that abortion is of greater importance as a voting issue to those who oppose legal abortion, and less important to those who favor it. At the top of the scale, those most likely to call abortion "very important" in their vote are anti-abortion women, followed by anti-abortion men. Pro-abortion men are least likely to call it an important issue in their vote.

Paul Schrier at 2:07pm ET

Has Gore finally shed the stigma of "Clinton-Fatigue"?

Gary Langer at 2:10pm ET

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