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Gore Stands to Lose Most From Gephardt

February 04, 1988|MAURA DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

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.

Dukakis' Constituency

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.

Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist who was a consultant on the poll, said strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire by Dukakis or Illinois Sen. Paul Simon might provide enough momentum to overcome the reservations of more socially conservative Democrats in the South. However, Ornstein said, Gephardt and Gore appear to be the best suited to put together the kind of broad coalition the Democrats would need to win the White House.

Andrew Kohut, president of the Gallup organization, which did the polling for Times Mirror, said these results indicate that defections of independent and older, socially conservative Democrats to Republican candidates will continue.

Bush Still Front-Runner

On the Republican side, the survey found that Vice President George Bush remains a solid front-runner, but his popularity is tied overwhelmingly to President Reagan. His principal rival, Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, gets higher marks than Bush for being "strong and forceful," "honest and ethical," able to "get things done," and for having a "fresh approach."

"On more characteristics than not . . . Dole does better than Bush," said Ornstein. "So George Bush has tied himself very closely to the fates of Ronald Reagan."

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