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THE TIMES POLL : Voices of the Electorate

GRASS-ROOTS REPORT. Gauging the Nation's Political Pulse. First in a series

November 05, 1995


Lilia Mitchell

* Account clerk

* Jersey City, New Jersey

* 32, three children and a fourth on the way

* Household income: $22,000


"I wish I could talk to President Clinton. One-on-one. The government is terrible. It's in bad shape."


"Congress still spends so much money on themselves. They get these big salaries and when the retire they still get $90,000 a year and they wonder why we have a deficit....It's unfair how they live. I'm just a single mother, with three children. I don't get a high salary, but I'm just trying to get by."


Favors Clinton: "First of all, I don't think Republicans care about the hard working I just wipe them out my mind." Unimpressed with the possibility of a Colin L. Powell run for the presidency: "If you are black and Republican and don't care about me, I'm still not going to vote for you."


* Welfare: "I know there are women that earnestly need it...Yes, there are some people that don't do anything for themselves. Those are the ones that need the reform, but they shouldn't take it all away. They should make it so they can help them do better. I've been on both sides of it so I know. I was on public assistance, but I got off it."


David Putnam

* Electric company manager

* Vestavia Hill, Ala.

* 51, Married, 2 grown children

* Income: $140,000


"I'm very excited about what is going on in Congress. They are finally focusing on reducing the deficit, reducing welfare and reducing the high costs. They are beginning to realize they have to run the country like a business...The Republicans recognize that there needs to be a balance between industry and social issues. The Democrats don't realize that someone has to pay the bills."


"I don't think the family is as bad off as I sometimes read it is. What has hurt it is some of the attitudes of entitlement. That has especially hurt the family in the lower economic end. The family needs some help, but it's not going to come from central government."


"I'm clearly a Republican. I like to think that I judge each candidate as an individual, but I always end up choosing the Republicans."


"Bob Dole seems to the most electable. He has the experience; his philosophy lines up closest to mine. I'm opposed to a third party. It's not electable. I'd rather see [Ross] Perot play within the system. I hope Colin Powell does get involved, but it would be a waste of time if he ended up joining a third party. I'd like to see him as a Vice Presidential candidate for Dole. It would give him the training he needs."

Where Do You Fit In?

Democrats and Republicans sharply disagree on the role of government and key social issues. Analysis of poll results show that while neither party is unanimous on the issues, the following positions are among the key factors that dispose a person to be either a Democrat or a Republican. Key characteristics:


* Prefer bigger government with more services

* Say rich people not paying their fair share of taxes is a bigger problem than poor people getting undeserved welfare benefits

* Want less defense spending

* Support the ban on assault weapons

* Support civil rights for gays

* Say most poor people are hard-working

* Support the two-party system

* Believe a poor economy is more of a threat to families than declining moral standards


* Prefer smaller government with fewer services

* Say poor people getting undeserved welfare is a bigger problem than rich people not paying their fair share of taxes

* Want more defense spending

* Oppose the ban on assault weapons

* Oppose civil rights for gays

* Say most poor people are lazy

* Support the two-party system

* Oppose abortion


Independents, by contrast, display a wide variety of stands on most major issues. What they do agree on is mistrust of government and the current political system.

* Believe the two-party system needs major overhaul

* Say they seldom, if ever, trust the government in Washington to do what is right

* Say the country is seriously on the wrong track

* Say religion is not important in their personal lives



Karen Casriel

* First grade teacher

* Long Beach, California

* 31, single

* Income: $35,000


"We have a better standard of living than a lot of countries. But our problems are social. Economically we may be ahead, but we don't have a sense of community. That's where we are poorer than other countries."


"There's no sense of family and stability any more. People feel very isolated. People have children but don't have a clue about how to raise them. We need education in school to teach people how to raise children because there are no models."


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