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McBride gains on Gov. Bush in Florida

MIAMI, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A poll showed Thursday that Democrat Bill McBride has closed to within 6 percentage points of Republican Gov. Jeb Bush in the race for governor of Florida.

The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. showed Bush with 49 percent, McBride with 43 percent, 7 percent undecided and a margin of error of 4 percent. Non-party candidate Bob Kunst got 1 percent.

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Bush -- President Bush's younger brother -- had held a 31-point lead over McBride in the same poll taken in January.

The survey for a number of newspapers and television stations across the state including The Miami Herald and The Tampa Tribune, polled 615 registered voters Sunday-Tuesday.

McBride said the survey was "astounding," and said the incumbent governor was getting nervous.

Campaign officials for Bush, who was not opposed in the Republican primary, said it was the result of a bounce from McBride's primary victory over former Attorney General Janet Reno.

Bush called it part of the "ebb and flow of politics."

"I'm actually surprised I'm that far ahead," he said.

Mason-Dixon's Brad Coker said the hassle over the vote count during the week after the primary election limited the bounce.

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He said the polling results show the race is "competitive and winnable for the Democrats."

Other recent polls also show Bush is ahead.

An MSNBC/Zogby International poll released Monday showed Bush leading 49-39 percent. A Democratic Party poll last week made it a 48-43 percent lead for Bush.

The polls were released as both men prepared for their debate Friday night in Jacksonville, Fla. The event -- telecast statewide -- will be the first of three during the campaign.

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