NEW ORLEANS — When delegates to the Republican National Convention were asked whom they want George Bush to choose as his running mate, the name heard most often was Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, a Los Angeles Times/CNN survey found.
Dole is a special favorite of fellow Midwesterners, political moderates, people over 40 and the convention's small fraction of minorities.
But Jack Kemp runs a close second and is preferred by delegates from the Deep South and California, the state where the conservative New York congressman grew up and became a football star.
California Gov. George Deukmejian, who has told Bush he does not want to be considered for the job, is highly regarded by delegates from all across the country--even more so than are such potential running mates as Kansas Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Wyoming Sen. Alan K. Simpson, New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander.
A Secret Till Thursday
But it seemed clear from this survey that any of the people being speculated about as Bush's running mate would be acceptable to the delegates. The vice president, who is destined on Wednesday night to officially win the presidential nomination that eluded him eight years ago, has vowed to keep his choice for the vice presidential nomination secret until Thursday morning.
The delegates do not appear to be in a fighting mood about a running mate or much of anything else, Times Poll Director I. A. Lewis concluded. But it is important to Bush that the delegates solidly support the standard-bearer's choice of a running mate because they are the front line troops of the party who must help sell the ticket to voters back home, and their degree of enthusiasm could make a difference on Election Day, Lewis noted.
The Times Poll, in cooperation with CNN, surveyed 96% of the 2,277 delegates from July 24 to Aug. 7.
The composition of this convention, which opens Monday, will be predominantly male. Only a third of the delegates are women. Interviews also showed that most delegates are middle-aged, with two-thirds falling between the ages of 40 and 65. Anglo faces will dominate the convention floor. Just 4% of the delegates are black and only 4% are Latino.
However, the 175-member California contingent--the largest here--tends to be more representative of the state's racial diversity: 12% of the delegates are Latino, 6% are black and 4% are Asian. The California delegation also is more evenly divided by gender: 55% male, 45% female.
Deukmejian, chairman of the California delegation, publicly has been pushing either Dole or Kemp for the second spot on the ticket, arguing that both gained national followings and valuable campaign experience while running unsuccessfully for the party's presidential nomination.
When delegates were asked by Times interviewers who their "personal choice" was for vice president, the largest percentage--23%--said Dole. Kemp was second with 18%. Nobody else came close. Howard H. Baker Jr., the former White House chief of staff and Tennessee senator, was third with 10%.
Among California's delegates, Kemp was preferred over Dole by 25% to 19%. Western delegates as a whole, however, were about evenly divided between Dole and Kemp. And Midwestern delegates favored Dole over Kemp by 33% to 17%. Easterners also preferred the veteran Kansas senator.
Moderates Back Dole
By ideological grouping, Dole's strongest constituency--and Kemp's most notable weakness--was among moderates. The middle-of-the-roaders preferred Dole over Kemp by 25% to 7%, with Baker the second choice with 17%. But only a fifth of the delegates characterized themselves as moderates. Three-fourths called themselves conservatives, and they split almost evenly between Dole and Kemp.
Dole's wife, former Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole, was the favorite of liberals. But liberals make up only 3% of the GOP convention.
When delegates were asked what type of running mate they thought would be "the strongest"--for example, a Southerner, a woman, a Latino--the most frequent response was "Midwesterner." The leading replies were Midwesterner, 30%; Westerner, 16%; Southerner, 16%; woman, 15%, and runner-up for the presidential nomination, 11%. Only 16% of the women delegates thought a woman would be the strongest vice presidential candidate.
Many California delegates--42% of them--said the strongest running mate would be a Westerner. Next was a woman, 22%.
What Kind of Person?
Dole was especially favored by delegates who said that when they decide which candidate to support for President, the most important factor is "the kind of person" the individual is. One-third of the delegates said they rate candidates, first of all, by that factor. But even more delegates--nearly half--said they regard "the candidate's stands on the issues" as most important, and these delegates divided about evenly between Dole and Kemp.