OAKLAND — Tom Bradley, speaking to a small downtown crowd at a noon rally in heavily Democratic Oakland, expressed concern Friday that unfavorable polls will discourage supporters of his gubernatorial campaign from voting on Tuesday.
Only about 150 people heard the Democratic nominee rally his forces in an area crucial to his campaign against heavily favored Republican Gov. George Deukmejian.
The failure of his local organization to pull out more people may indicate trouble ahead for a Democratic get-out-the-vote effort in the San Francisco Bay Area on Election Day.
The light schedule--just two Oakland speeches and a nighttime Los Angeles television interview--with the election so near was another sign of trouble. Aides said the overstretched staff was too busy arranging Bradley's whistle-stop train trip through the Central Valley on Saturday to set up more events, and the Los Angeles mayor's reliance on commercial flights, because of a shortage of funds, made travel difficult.
'Get Out the Vote'
"Get out the vote" was the theme of Bradley's speech.
Referring to the Field Poll, which showed the mayor 19 points behind Deukmejian, Bradley said the survey assumed a low turnout, especially of potential Bradley supporters.
"Don't let them tell you what you're going to do or not do on Election Day," Bradley said. "Show them that you care, that you're committed, that you want Tom Bradley as your governor."
As underdog candidates love to do, he invoked the memory of former President Harry S. Truman's 1948 victory over Thomas Dewey, and said, "We're going to shock the state; we're going to fool all the pollsters who tried to write you off and write you down.
'Harry Truman Medicine'
"We're going to give them some of that Harry Truman medicine. It will be bitter medicine for those who are so arrogant that they would assume that a certain group of people don't have the intelligence, don't have the will, don't have the commitment to vote. We are going to show them."
Tom Quinn, Bradley's campaign chairman, told a reporter he fears that Bradley supporters, seeing the polls, will not vote Tuesday. He said he is especially afraid that younger voters will stay away from the polling booths.
Bradley polls, he said, show the mayor is making greater gains with younger voters than older ones, who tend to be moving to the Deukmejian side. And, historically, older people tend to vote in higher numbers than younger ones.
"If the turnout is as Field says (low, with a big share of older voters), there will be a big Deukmejian victory," Quinn said. "The lower the turnout, the worse Bradley will do. The higher the turnout, the higher his vote."
Backers of Bradley in Oakland were pessimistic in interviews.
Looking at the relatively small audience in the little park in front of City Hall before the speech, Oakland City Councilman Leo Bazile said, "We may be seeing the first signs of the demise of the Democratic Party."
Bazile, who represents predominantly black--and heavily poor--East Oakland, said there was more enthusiasm for Bradley in the black community than in 1982, when he narrowly lost to Deukmejian, but he was uncertain because of poor coordination among major campaigns about whether a planned get-out-the-vote effort will succeed.
That effort is especially important in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Democrats lead in registration. The Bay Area, particularly working-class Alameda County, which includes Oakland, is needed by Bradley to offset expected huge Deukmejian majorities in Orange and San Diego counties.
Weekend TV Commercials
A statewide drive, targeted at key areas such as Oakland, is being run from Los Angeles by Marshal Gans, former farmworkers' union leader and a veteran political organizer. It is being financed by Bradley and Sen. Alan Cranston, (D-Calif.), in a tight reelection fight against Rep. Ed Zschau (R-Los Altos.)
Quinn said Bradley television commercials over the weekend are designed to bring out his vote. Rather than attacking Deukmejian, as Bradley ads have done all year long, the new commercials feature the mayor, wearing a sweater, speaking about his hopes in an optimistic way. "The intention is to stimulate some interest among Democrats," Quinn said.