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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Runaway Leader in California, Poll Says

LOS ANGELES -- In spite of Whitewater developments and the furor over FBI files, U.S. President Bill Clinton has widened his lead over Republican challenger Bob Dole in California since the March primary election to landslide proportions, the Los Angeles Times Poll has found.

Dole has vowed to battle Clinton to the end for California's critical 54 electoral votes, but nothing Dole has done so far appears to have helped him in the Golden State -- not his dramatic resignation from the U.S. Senate so he could campaign full time, his four recent trips to California, or his contention that Clinton has "waged war on California."

Three weeks before the opening of the Republican National Convention in San Diego, Clinton leads Dole by 27 points, 61 percent to 34 percent, among registered voters. That is a six-point increase over the 58 percent to 37 percent lead Clinton enjoyed just before the March 26 primary, in which Dole clinched enough delegate votes to win the Republican presidential nomination.

Democrats also seemed to be leading in the races for Congress in California. Asked whether they would vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their own district, voters favored the Democrats by an 11-point margin -- 51 percent to 40 percent. That margin, unchanged from March, indicates that Democrats may pick up some seats now held by Republicans.

Dole's support in California has steadily declined since March 1995, even though Californians see Dole as more honest than Clinton, and as a man who is more likely to stick to his convictions, Pinkus said.

Only about one-third of the respondents thought Clinton was more honest than Dole. But that sentiment does not seem to translate into potential votes for Dole or detract from Clinton's support.

Among all California voters, Clinton's job approval rating held steady at 55 percent favorable and 40 percent unfavorable.

"So far, Dole has not made a case for himself," said Susan Pinkus, acting director of the Los Angeles Times Poll.

While Dole is holding onto support from conservative Republicans, he is suffering major defections from other segments of his party base. More than one-fourth of the registered Republicans contacted in the survey said they are now inclined to vote for Clinton.

"And what is more startling is the fact that 34 percent of Republican women [22 percent in March] would vote for Clinton, and Clinton edges Dole for the moderate-liberal GOP vote 46 percent-44 percent," Pinkus said.

Clinton also made major gains among independent voters in the past several months. In the new survey, independents split in Clinton's favor by more than 2-1.

The Times Poll surveyed 1,570 California adults, including 1,267 registered voters, by telephone during the period from July 13 to 16. For both samples, the survey had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.