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Oregon Promises Another Close Presidential Vote in 2004

Political analysts say the northwestern U.S. state of Oregon is shaping up to be one of the 20 so-called "battleground" states in the November presidential election.

Then-Vice President Al Gore barely carried the state in the 2000 race against George Bush, winning by just over 6,000 votes, or less than one percent of the total votes cast.

Mr. Gore managed to win despite a strong showing by then-Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who won drew enough votes from Mr. Gore to end up with five percent of the vote. Mr. Nader was popular among the Pacific coast state's environmentalists and consumer activists.

This year, state opinion polls indicate the race between President Bush and his Democratic opponent John Kerry is too close to call. Mr. Nader is running as an independent candidate and could also be a factor.

During his trips to Oregon, Mr. Kerry has focused on the

loss of high-paying manufacturing jobs the state has suffered since President Bush took office.

Social conservatives are hoping the appearance of an initiative to ban same-sex marriage on Oregon's November 2 ballot will motivate voters to the polls to cast their ballots for President Bush.