DES MOINES — Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore Jr., whose bid for the Democratic presidential nomination hinges on a good showing in the March 8 Southern primaries, has the most to lose if rival Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt takes Iowa next week, according to a poll released Wednesday.
The poll by Times Mirror Co., which publishes the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, surveyed 2,109 people nationwide from Jan. 8 to 17. It found that older, union-oriented, socially conservative Democrats who make up one-third of Southern Democrats probably would be drawn to Gephardt, should he finish first in Monday's Iowa precinct caucuses.
This bedrock Democratic constituency holds the kind of philosophical positions most often espoused by Gephardt and Gore, the survey found. For example, 87% of this constituency says it is more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to tax imports. Gephardt wants to restrict imports from countries that refuse to remove their tariffs from U.S. goods.
Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis fares poorly with this constituency and would have a harder time beating Gore in the South, the survey results suggest. Dukakis takes much of his support from independent, liberal Democrats and those who identify with peace, civil rights and environmental movements.