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THE TIMES POLL : Seymour Is Still Mostly Unknown

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TIMES SACRAMENTO BUREAU CHIEF

Republican John Seymour of Anaheim has been a U.S. senator for nearly five months, but eight in 10 California voters still do not know enough about the man to say whether they like him or not, The Los Angeles Times Poll has found.

Nevertheless, despite his low name recognition, Seymour at this early stage of the 1992 election campaign is comfortably ahead of his challenger for the Republican Senate nomination and is competitive with well-known Democrat Dianne Feinstein in a hypothetical general election matchup.

With more than a year to go before the primary elections, statewide name recognition clearly is a major factor in the early positions of candidates for California’s two U.S. Senate seats.

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Feinstein, who narrowly lost to Republican Pete Wilson in last November’s gubernatorial election, is running far ahead of state Controller Gray Davis in a hypothetical race for the Democratic nomination to compete for Seymour’s seat. Davis has said he is leaning toward entering the contest, but may bid for the seat being vacated by veteran Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston.

There is a crowded field of Democrats scrambling for the nomination to succeed Cranston. The early leaders, according to the poll, are Davis, former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, all of whom are well known to voters.

The Times Poll, directed by John Brennan, asked registered voters about the two embryonic Senate races during telephone interviews May 18-21. In all, 1,242 registered voters were interviewed, including 582 Democrats, 470 Republicans and 190 independents and members of minor parties. The margin of error for all the voters was three percentage points. The error margin for Democrats and Republicans separately was five points.

Seymour was a state senator when Wilson chose him as his replacement in the U.S. Senate last January. Since then, the GOP lawmaker has made several trips to different parts of California in an effort to become better known to the voters in preparation for next year’s election. The latest Times survey, when compared to a similar poll in January, shows that Seymour has made virtually no progress in building name identification.

When voters were asked their impression of Seymour, 78% said they did not know enough about him to have an opinion. Among the rest, 15% had a favorable impression and 7% said they viewed him unfavorably. Even three-quarters of the Republicans did not know enough about the GOP senator to judge him.

By contrast, Wilson’s impression was 50% favorable, 39% unfavorable and 11% not sure.

Still, Seymour was running 28 percentage points ahead of his Republican challenger for the nomination, conservative Rep. William E. Dannemeyer of Fullerton, in a contest where two in five voters were undecided. He was trailing Feinstein, who is far better known, by 10 points.

Feinstein, as she did throughout much of her 1990 gubernatorial race, enjoyed strong support from women, who favored her by 21 points over Seymour. She and Seymour were splitting the votes of men almost equally.

In the hypothetical Democratic primary, Feinstein was leading Davis by 24 points. Davis fared better than Feinstein in a general election matchup against Seymour, leading the GOP incumbent by 22 points. The difference was that Davis fared slightly better than Feinstein among men when competing against Seymour and also did at least as well among women, beating the Republican by 30 points.

In the contest for the Democratic nomination to succeed Cranston, the three leaders--Brown, McCarthy and Davis--were somewhat closely bunched. Trailing were Rep. Barbara Boxer of Marin County and Rep. Mel Levine of Santa Monica, who has not officially declared his candidacy. On Thursday, Rep. Robert T. Matsui of Sacramento dropped out of the contest.

In the Republican primary for the Cranston seat, Rep. Tom Campbell of San Jose held a slight edge over Los Angeles television commentator Bruce Herschensohn in a two-way race, and was virtually tied when a third possible candidate, Rep. Robert K. Dornan of Garden Grove, was injected into the mix. More than a third were undecided in each race. Campbell is regarded as a moderate while Herschensohn and Dornan are strongly conservative.

How the Poll Was Conducted

The Los Angeles Times Poll interviewed 1,242 registered California voters by telephone May 18-21, 1991. Telephone numbers were generated from a computer list that includes all telephone exchanges in the state. Random-digit dialing techniques were used to ensure that each region of the state is properly represented and that both listed and unlisted residences have an opportunity to be contacted. Results are adjusted to conform with census figures on characteristics such as sex, race, age, education and household size. The margin of sampling error for percentages based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For percentages based on certain subgroups, the error margin is somewhat higher.

The Los Angeles Times Poll

The California 1992 Senate Sweepstakes

The Times Poll surveyed 1,242 registered voters statewide, by telephone, from May 18 to May 21. The sample includes 582 registered Democrats, 470 registered Republicans and 190 independents and members of minor parties. The margin of error in the total sample is plus or minus three percentage points. The error margin on some subgroups is slightly higher. For example, for samples of Democrats and Republicans the error margin is plus or minus five points. HYPOTHETICAL 1992 DEMOCRATIC SENATE PRIMARY MATCHUPS

Candidates: Dianne Feinstein and Gray Davis

Among Registered Democrats

ALL MEN WOMEN LIBERALS Feinstein 57% 49% 62% 68% Davis 33 38 29 24 Someone else - 1 - - Don’t know 10 12 9 8

Candidates: Barbara Boxer, Edmund G. Brown Jr., Gray Davis, Mel Levine, Robert Matsui* and Leo McCarthy.

Among Registered Democrats

ALL MEN WOMEN LIBERALS Brown 24% 21% 26% 31% McCarthy 20 21 19 19 Davis 17 18 16 14 Boxer 9 9 8 11 Matsui* 8 11 6 6 Levine 3 3 3 5 Someone else - 1 - 1 Don’t know 19 16 22 13

* Matsui withdrew on May 23.

HYPOTHETICAL 1992 REPUBLICAN SENATE PRIMARY MATCHUPS

Candidates: John Seymour and William Dannemeyer

Among Registered Republicans

ALL CONSERVATIVES Seymour 44% 39% Dannemeyer 16 22 Someone else - - Don’t know 40 39

Candidates: Tom Campbell, Robert Dornan and Bruce Herschensohn

Among Registered Republicans

ALL CONSERVATIVES Campbell 24% 22% Dornan 21 25 Herschensohn 20 28 Someone else 1 - Don’t know 34 25

Candidates: Tom Campbell and Bruce Herschensohn

Among Registered Republicans

ALL CONSERVATIVES Campbell 34% 30% Herschensohn 28 39 Someone else - - Don’t know 38 31

HYPOTHETICAL 1992 GENERAL ELECTION SENATE MATCHUPS

Candidates: Dianne Feinstein (D) and John Seymour (R)

Among All Registered Voters

ALL MEN WOMEN DEMS IND REPS Feinstein 50% 43% 55% 70% 57% 22% Seymour 40 47 34 19 30 70 Someone else - - - - - - Don’t know 10 10 11 11 13 8

Candidates: Gray Davis (D) and John Seymour (R)

Among All Registered Voters

ALL MEN WOMEN DEMS IND REPS Davis 53% 48% 57% 76% 48% 24% Seymour 31 36 27 8 29 62 Someone else - - - - - - Don’t know 16 16 16 16 23 14


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