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Dole Keeps Narrowing Gap In Poll Support For Perot Remains Unchanged In Survey

Fri., Aug. 23, 1996, midnight

Bob Dole still trails President Clinton but has more and stronger support a week after the Republican National Convention than he did early this month, according to a national poll released Thursday.

The NBC-Wall Street Journal survey conducted Tuesday and Wednesday found 27 percent of registered voters now say they definitely would back Dole if the election were today, up from 18 percent in an Aug. 2-6 poll.

Clinton’s “definite” support was at 32 percent, statistically unchanged from 34 percent in early August. Of course, he still can get a public opinion “bounce” of his own from the Democratic convention next week.

Ross Perot got no bump from the Reform Party convention that made him the party’s presidential nominee over the weekend. His strong support was at 4 percent, the same as early this month.

Overall, including voters who say they probably would vote for their candidate but are “still thinking about it,” Clinton led 48 percent to 38 percent for Dole and 8 percent for Perot. That compares to a 50-30-10 race in the early August NBC-Journal poll.

Looking another way at strength of support, 70 percent of Dole supporters now say they definitely would vote for him, up from 62 percent before; 67 percent of Clinton voters say that, unchanged; and 44 percent of Perot voters are definite, compared with an earlier 36 percent tally.

Other national polls conducted since the GOP gathering ended last week also found Clinton’s lead at least halved, to around 10 points. An ABC News tracking poll conducted partially before the convention ended found the gap narrowing to 4 points but back at 12 points in Sunday and Monday samples.

The NBC-Journal poll also found evidence that voters are skeptical of Dole’s supply-side economic proposal but still think fondly of President Reagan’s supply-side experiment in the 1980s.

The survey gauged reactions to statements pro and con about the plan. In favor: “It will make the economy grow faster by encouraging more investment, creating jobs and giving families needed tax relief.” Against: “It will increase the federal budget deficit or require cuts in important domestic programs, and will mostly give tax breaks to the wealthy.”

Forty-eight percent then said they agree more with Clinton and the Democrats on this issue, 40 percent with Dole and the Republicans.

Yet 48 percent said Reagan’s economic policies were mainly good for the country, 35 percent said mainly bad. Eight percent volunteered that the policies were “mixed” and 9 percent were not sure.

The survey of 806 registered voters had an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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