updated 4/21/2004 1:51:24 PM ET 2004-04-21T17:51:24

President Bush has edged ahead of Democrat John Kerry in Pennsylvania, according to a poll of voters in the critical swing state won by Al Gore in 2000.

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In a three-way race, Republican Bush is supported by 45 percent of the state’s voters, compared with 39 percent for Democrat Kerry and 8 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader, according to the poll released Wednesday by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. The rest were undecided.

Without Nader in the race, Bush still holds a slight 46-42 lead over Kerry, according to the Connecticut-based institute.

In March, Bush had 44 percent, Kerry 40 percent and Nader 7 percent. Without Nader in the question, Kerry and Bush ran even — with Kerry at 45 percent and Bush at 44 percent.

A fifth of voters, 20 percent, said they could change their mind before the election.

The war and terrorism rose in importance among election issues, although the economy remains the biggest concern among prospective voters, the poll showed.

Gore, the Democratic nominee in 2000, beat Bush in Pennsylvania by more than 200,000 votes. The state last supported a Republican for president in 1988.

The institute surveyed 769 registered Pennsylvania voters between April 13 and April 19. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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