June 2, 1996 in Nation/World

Yeltsin Opens Lead In Latest Opinion Poll Communist Gennady Zyuganov 12 Points Back; Election In 2 Weeks

Associated Press
 

A new poll published Saturday gives Boris Yeltsin a lead of more than 12 percentage points over Communist rival Gennady Zyuganov, his strongest showing to date in the hard-fought race for president.

The Moscow Times-CNN poll shows Yeltsin gaining steadily while Zyuganov stagnates in the countdown to the June 16 election.

The newspaper said 32.6 percent of the people polled said they were going to vote for Yeltsin and 19.7 percent said they were voting for Zyuganov.

Nearly 18 percent said they were undecided.

The poll of 1,055 people was conducted by the Institute for Comparative Social Research between May 21 and May 27 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The survey said three other major contenders, reformer Grigory Yavlinsky, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and retired Gen. Alexander Lebed, were in a dead heat for third place with 5.9 percent, 5.7 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.

Other polls have also shown Yeltsin leading but no major ones have indicated a gap between him and Zyuganov as large at the Moscow Times-CNN poll.

Polls have a mixed track record in Russia and pollsters caution that the results might be misleading.

“We somehow do not penetrate into some layers of our society,” analyst Leonid Sedov told reporters at a briefing last week by some leading pollsters.

He and others noted that many of the people who say they will vote for Yeltsin didn’t take part in the December parliamentary elections, meaning Yeltsin can’t necessarily count on them to turn out.

In contrast, Communist voters are tightly disciplined and Zyuganov can rely on his core supporters on election day.

Turnout, the pollsters agreed, will be vital.

The more people who vote, the better Yeltsin’s chances are.

Yeltsin went into the race as an underdog with single-digit approval ratings.

But he’s campaigned aggressively and the Russian media has giving him massive, unstintingly favorable coverage.

Despite his comeback, none of Russia’s major pollsters believe he can win without a runoff.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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