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Dole, Gephardt Ahead in Final Iowa Poll

February 07, 1988|Associated Press

DES MOINES — Kansas Sen. Bob Dole has a 14-point lead over Vice President George Bush in a new poll on the Republican presidential contest, and Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt is atop the Democratic field, the Des Moines Register reported today in its final poll before Monday's precinct caucuses.

The poll showed Dole with the backing of 37% of those surveyed, contrasted with 23% for Bush. Former television evangelist Pat Robertson was in third place with 13%, followed by New York Rep. Jack Kemp, 11%; former Delaware Gov. Pierre S. (Pete) du Pont IV, 7%, and former Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr., who has removed his campaign staffers from the state, 1%. Eight percent were undecided.

Among Democrats, Gephardt had the support of 25% of those surveyed. Illinois Sen. Paul Simon had 19%; Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis had 15%; the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt each had 9%, and former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart had 7%.

Tennessee Sen. Albert Gore Jr., who also has pulled his campaign out of the state, collected 1%, and 15% of the Democrats were undecided.

The poll surveyed 612 Democratic voters and 660 Republicans likely to attend the caucuses. Democrats were surveyed Jan. 25 through Feb. 3 and Republicans Jan. 25 to Feb. 5. The poll claims a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

In the newspaper's poll a month ago, Dole had a 15-point lead, while Gephardt was bunched more tightly with Simon and Dukakis. The poll showed another steep decline for Hart, who surged to the top of the field briefly when he re-entered the race in December.

But predicting the outcome of the Iowa caucuses is "terribly tricky," in the words of Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who is not affiliated with a candidate this year. Iowa is complicated for several reasons: The rules are complex, particularly for the Democratic caucuses; the number of people who will participate is tiny; Iowans are proudly defiant of national habits and trends, and they have a reputation for making up their minds at the last minute.

"Iowa is the ultimate sand trap for pollsters," said Republican pollster Richard B. Wirthlin, who is advising Dole. "Anyone who thinks they know who's going to win by what margin simply doesn't know."

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