Some not-so-happy news for Vice President Gore on a Labor Day weekend: You've got a problem with workers.

While strong majorities of working Americans approve of President Clinton's handling of the economy, much of that success has not rubbed off on his No. 2. Worse yet, more fully employed workers--a traditionally Democratic constituency--favor Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) over Gore.

In a nationwide survey of 1,000 full-time workers, conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University and the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut, only 8 percent gave Gore "a lot" of the credit for the economy, while 44 percent said "some" and 31 percent said "not at all." By comparison, 70 percent said Clinton was greatly or somewhat responsible for the economy.

In a head-to-head matchup, 49 percent of workers said that if the election were today, they would vote for Bush compared with 34 percent for Gore. Also, 30 percent said Bush would do a better job with the economy and jobs than Gore, who received 24 percent. The next highest rating went to Elizabeth Dole, who earlier in her career was secretary of labor, with 10 percent.

Gore's numbers are particularly perplexing considering that 47 percent of the respondents answered that congressional Democrats would do a better job than congressional Republicans (31 percent) in handling issues related to jobs.

Because most workers are still relatively vague about both candidates' records, however, Gore has time to improve his image among workers, the study suggests. "For Vice President Gore, the survey is a dark storm cloud with a faint silver lining," said Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center.

Whether Buchanan Will Stay or Go

Will he or won't he? Part I.

That's what Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson wants to know about Patrick J. Buchanan's political plans. Buchanan has been all over the map about whether he will bolt the GOP to seek the Reform Party's nomination.

Last week, his sister and campaign adviser, Bay Buchanan, told the Associated Press that Nicholson "has personally contacted me and asked to set up a meeting with Pat, which we're attempting to do." Buchanan is the second potential defection Nicholson has had to deal with in recent months. The chairman unsuccessfully sought to keep New Hampshire Sen. Robert C. Smith in the party. Buchanan, like Smith, has accused the GOP of straying from conservative principles and has expressed displeasure with what they see as the establishment's rush to crown Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

RNC spokesman Mark Pfeifle said Nicholson "does want to meet with Pat Buchanan. He's a friend and a valued Republican and yes, the chairman wants to assure him that he has a home in the Republican Party."

The Reform Party, meanwhile, has set Long Beach, Calif., as the site of its 2000 national convention.

Sen. Smith Says He's In

Will he or won't he, Part II: Return of the Independent.

Sen. Robert C. Smith (N.H.) now says he is definitely in the presidential race and in it to win. Smith has had an eventful year: First he announced he was running for president and would seek the GOP nomination. Then this summer he dropped out of the party. He flirted briefly with the Reform Party, but decided to seek the U.S. Taxpayers Party's nomination. Then he announced he would not seek any party's nomination, but would run as an independent. But around the same time, Smith said that his wife, Mary Jo, was having health problems, and he seemed to waver about running for president at all. Last week he said he's in.

"He's running as an independent, and that's been the plan all along," said spokeswoman Karen Hickey. "He's looking to get ballot access in all 50 states. We have an army of 60,000 people who have signed up since March."