Cranston, Zschau in a Dead Heat, California Poll Finds

Times Staff Writer

The Republican challenger in the U.S. Senate race, Rep. Ed Zschau, has pulled virtually even with Democratic incumbent Alan Cranston for the first time, a new California Poll reported Thursday.

Heading into the final weekend, the findings confirm private Republican polls that show Zschau’s momentum on the upswing. President Reagan is scheduled to make two California appearances this weekend that Zschau advisers expect to further bolster their campaign.

The nonpartisan California Poll, directed by Mervin Field and reported on KCBS-TV, shows Cranston with 46% and Zschau with 45%. The slim margin is regarded as a dead heat because a poll of this size can err as much as four points in either direction.

The telephone poll sampled 701 registered voters between Monday and Thursday. It found only 5% of voters had not yet decided which Senate candidate they support.


Ron Smith, campaign manager for Zschau, characterized the campaign’s reaction to the poll as “simple ecstasy.”

In the last California Poll released Oct. 6, Cranston still held a lead of five percentage points. A Los Angeles Times Poll released Oct. 19 showed Cranston, a senator for nearly 18 years, with a seven-point lead among likely voters.

Together with the findings in the race for governor, the poll suggests that most voters making up their minds in the final week are opting for Republicans.

Gov. George Deukmejian has widened his lead over the Democratic challenger, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, to 19 percentage points, the poll shows. In the previous California Poll, Bradley was within 15 points of the governor.

California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird was trailing in her bid for reconfirmation by a wide 26-point margin in the new poll. Justice Cruz Reynoso was lagging by four points, with 28% of the voters undecided. Justice Joseph Grodin was ahead by 10 points, with 32% undecided.

In the race for lieutenant governor, incumbent Democrat Leo T. McCarthy held a nine-point lead over his Republican rival, Mike Curb. McCarthy received 47% to Curb’s 38%, with 10% of those polled undecided.

In the controller’s race, Democratic Assemblyman Gray Davis of Los Angeles held a 17-point lead over state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), with 14% undecided.