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Polls Show Dole Leading Republican Pack in Mass., Ga., N.Y. and Fla.

March 1, 1996

A collection of polls released Friday as the primary election season speeds up:

_Sen. Bob Dole strongly leads commentator Pat Buchanan and publisher Steve Forbes among likely GOP voters in the Massachusetts presidential primary Tuesday, but nearly half of those surveyed said they could still change their minds. Dole had 40 percent support, Buchanan 17 percent, and Forbes and former Tennessee Gov. Alexander 11 percent each, according to a poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for the Boston Herald. Fifteen percent were undecided and 46 percent said they could change their minds. The survey interviewed 409 likely GOP voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

_A second Massachusetts poll, conducted by The Boston Globe and WBZ-TV on Tuesday and Wednesday, showed Dole at 33 percent, Forbes 15 percent, Buchanan 14 percent and Alexander 11 percent. Twenty-one percent were undecided. The poll, conducted by KRC Communications Research, surveyed 181 Republicans and 219 independents who were registered voters. The survey had a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

_Dole has 31 percent support in Georgia, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV poll. Buchanan had 23 percent, Alexander 16 percent and Forbes 10 percent. Ten percent of those who said they planned to vote in the GOP primary were undecided. The margin of error 4 percentage points. The secretary of state’s office has predicted that 20 to 25 percent of Georgia’s 3.3 million registered voters will vote Tuesday; 42 delegates are at stake.

_New Englanders say economic issues will determine their votes for president. A poll by the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut showed 23 percent said the economy would be the most important factor, 19 percent said taxes and spending, and 11 percent said social issues in general; only 3 percent cited abortion. Pollsters surveyed 850 registered New England voters by telephone between Feb. 16 and 29. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Of the possible candidates for president, 44 percent said President Clinton would be best for New England. Dole was second with 11 percent, followed by Buchanan 6 percent, Alexander 4 percent and Forbes 2 percent. Just among the Republicans, Dole was deemed best for New England by about 31 percent of the respondents, followed by Clinton 14 percent, Buchanan 10 percent, Forbes 7 percent, and Alexander 6 percent. The survey of Republicans had a 7 percentage-point margin of error. Five New England states _ Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine _ hold primaries Tuesday.

_Dole has a solid lead over Buchanan and Forbes in New York ahead of the Republican presidential primary Thursday, where only Dole and Forbes are on ballots statewide. Buchanan will be on the ballot in about two-thirds of the state’s 31 congressional districts. The Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie said Dole had 49 percent support, Buchanan 21 percent and Forbes 17 percent. Fourteen percent were undecided. The telephone poll of 515 Republican voters was conducted Monday through Wednesday and had a margin of error of 5 percentage points. Previous polls have put Dole and Forbes in a statistical dead heat.

_Dole held the lead among the Republican presidential candidates in a new Voices of Florida poll of likely Florida voters released Friday, but Buchanan and Alexander were gaining ground more than a week before the state’s March 12 presidential primary. Dole remains the choice of 37 percent of GOP voters, down from 41 percent in October. But Buchanan’s support has tripled since then to 23 percent while Alexander’s rose sixfold to 18 percent. Forbes is a distant fourth, according to the poll of 708 likely Florida voters taken Feb. 22-24. All of the Republican candidates trailed President Clinton among all voters, and 58 percent of those surveyed said they could change their minds before the primary. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent for all voters and 7 percent for likely Republican voters.

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