WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Seven weeks before the 2000 Presidential election, Vice President Al Gore has a 20-point lead over Texas Governor George W. Bush among voters with disabilities, according to Harris Poll data released today by the National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.). In a Harris Poll conducted nationally between Sept. 8-17, Gore was the choice of 56 percent of the respondents who had disabilities, while 36 percent planned to vote for Bush. Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was favored by three percent, Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan by two percent, and three percent were undecided. While the current preference gap among those with disabilities is the largest in this election cycle to date, Gore has been consistently ahead of Bush among disability voters since this group was surveyed beginning last spring, at a time when Gore trailed Bush overall. There are roughly 35 million Americans with disabilities who are of voting age. The poll found that among all voters, Gore has an eight-point lead, 49 percent to 41 percent for Bush, with three percent for Nader, one percent for Buchanan, and five percent undecided. These numbers are consistent with other recent polls, which show Gore ahead. If one removes voters with disabilities from the Harris Poll results for the entire population, Gore's lead drops from eight to six points (47-41). Voters with disabilities account for a quarter of the current eight-point gap between the candidates, and this swing vote group's impact will be significant in the election. In releasing the latest Harris data, N.O.D. President Alan A. Reich stated: "This election cycle is far from over, and voters with disabilities have already shown the impact we can have. Not only the presidential candidates, but all candidates for national, state and local offices, should be prepared to answer to constituents with disabilities. We are the nation's largest minority-54 million men, women and children who comprise a fifth of the population. Candidates must not ignore us." In its regular national surveys, the Harris Poll includes questions that identify people with disabilities. These surveys consistently have shown a substantial difference in the way voters with disabilities vote as compared to all voters. This "disability gap" can vary in different elections and can change during a campaign. N.O.D. and the Harris Poll have been measuring and reporting on the participation of people with disabilities in voting as well as other aspects of life for more than a decade. In 1988, for example, the shift in the disability vote was a significant factor in George Bush's victory. Harris Poll data showed that as Republican nominee Bush was overtaking Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis to win that November's election, he particularly gained ground among voters with disabilities. The disability gap in favor of Dukakis fell from 21 points before the Republican convention to 15 points in early September and 10 points by Election Day. The National Organization on Disability is working to get out the vote among Americans with disabilities. N.O.D.'s non-partisan VOTE!2000 Campaign already has registered many thousands of voters from the disability community. The national Campaign's objectives include increasing voter registration, making polling places accessible and leading a get-out-the-vote drive. "People with disabilities have not always been able to access the ballot box, but we are insisting on our right to vote and to participate in the democratic process," said Mr. Reich. The National Organization on Disability was founded in 1982 at the conclusion of the International Year of Disabled Persons. Its mission is to promote the full and equal participation and contribution of America's 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. N.O.D. is funded entirely by private donations and accepts no government funding. For more information about N.O.D.'s programs, including VOTE!2000, visit www.nod.org.
SOURCE National Organization on Disability