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Archive for Thursday, September 26, 1996

S GAINING GROUND

September 26, 1996

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A Journal-World poll shows Bob Dole's lead over Bill Clinton has increased in Kansas since July.

A new Journal-World poll shows that Bob Dole has a 12 point lead in Kansas over Bill Clinton.

But Dole's lead ought to be much wider in his home state, said Del Ali, president of Mason-Dixon Political Media Research Inc., Washington, D.C., which conducted the poll for the J-W.

"It's not a very impressive showing," Ali said. "Bill Clinton is further ahead in Arkansas, in his home state, than Bob Dole is in his home state. Clinton's up by 18, 55 to 37, in Arkansas."

In Kansas, Dole has 51 percent to Clinton's 39 percent with Perot picking up 3 percent and 7 percent undecided, according to the telephone survey of 838 Kansas registered voters, which was taken Saturday through Monday. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Ali said Dole's lead ought to be something like 59 to 35, with Perot at 4 or 5 and the rest undecided, Ali said.

Dole's problem? Lack of focus, Ali said.

"One week it was the 15 percent tax cut. The next week it's crime. Then it's drugs. This week it's 'Bill Clinton is a liberal,'" Ali said. "The campaign doesn't have a message and it doesn't seem the candidate believes in the message."

With six weeks before the Nov. 5 election, there's little Dole can do himself, Ali said.

"He is reduced to hoping for an external event to happen," Ali said. For example, a criminal indictment would have to be handed down in the Whitewater investigation to have some effect, he said.

"Bill Clinton has the ball. It's Bill Clinton's election to lose," he said. "That's what it's come down to."

The poll showed Dole has gained some ground in Kansas since the last J-W poll in late July.

In that poll, Dole led Clinton 45 percent to 38 percent, with Perot getting 5 percent.

The latest J-W poll also showed that Dole has shown most of his improvement in Kansas among women voters.

Dole now has a 50 percent to 42 percent lead with women, up from the 41-41 percent split in August. Dole's 52 percent to 36 percent lead among men is similar to the 49 percent to 35 percent margin from August.

Dole has also secured his Republican base in Kansas, improving his GOP support from 73 percent to 80 percent.

Among independents, Dole has made a surge, going from a 35 percent to 42 percent deficit in August to a 51 percent to 37 percent lead.

The J-W poll showed Ross Perot is a relative non-factor in the race. Statewide, only 7 percent have a favorable opinion of him, while 63 percent now say their view is unfavorable, with 29 percent neutral.

Allan Cigler, a Kansas University professor of political science and government, said he didn't think the latest poll showed much difference than the last one.

One interesting point is that Dole might not be considered an asset at leading the ticket for other Republicans seeking office in Kansas, Cigler said.

"It will normally be a plus and a coattails for people at other levels," Cigler said. "However, as I look at some of the other races and from the polls I've seen, people are acting pretty independent. I think Dole will take Kansas, but there are still some congressional and Senate races that are not cut and dry yet."

Republicans and Democrats are putting their own spins on the J-W poll numbers.

Joe Wagner, press secretary for Clinton's Kansas campaign, said Dole's lead should be much higher in Kansas.

"You can smell desperation in his campaign because he has nothing positive to offer and he's just been going negative on the president," Wagner said.

Kim Wells, chairman of Dole's campaign in Kansas said, "Dole will carry Kansas by a comfortable double-digit margin.

"He's actually made strides among women ... and among independents ... I don't know what more you're supposed to do than that," Wells said.

"The numbers sound fine to me -- whenever your up over 50 percent, it's good."

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