Internal election-eve polls detected hints of forthcoming upsets

November 08, 1990|By New York Times News Service

Campaign strategists for some of the biggest losers in Tuesday's elections in battleground states like Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota said yesterday that they had detected defeats in internal polls on the eve of the voting.

But they said it was too late to effectively counter the sinking fortunes of their candidates.

late as Sunday, a poll commissioned by the Detroit News said that Gov. James J. Blanchard, D-Mich., was a comfortable 14 percentage points ahead of his Republican rival, John Engler. But Mr. Engler won, by a margin of less than a point.

Tubby Harrison, Mr. Blanchard's poll taker, said he got the first inkling of an upset on Friday night when his internal survey showed the governor ahead but slipping. By Monday, he said, the two candidates were "dead even."

In the Massachusetts governor's race, John R. Silber's poll takers say they saw movement against him late last week,

particularly after the Boston Globe endorsed his Republican opponent, William F. Weld.

In two notable cases, Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., and Representative Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., won by margins that were far closer than polls had generally projected. Their poll takers said they spotted a narrowing of support in recent weeks but were nevertheless surprised by how close the outcomes were.

Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., also confounded poll takers by

beating his Democratic opponent, Harvey Gantt, by 6 percentage points in what was widely expected to be a close race.

The margin of Mr. Helms' victory reopened the debate among political analysts over whether people lied to poll takers by saying that they would vote for the black candidate, Mr. Gantt, but did not follow through in the voting booth.

In one recent example of an apparent discrepancy, Mayor David N. Dinkins' margin of victory in last year's New York mayoral race was much closer than polls had projected.

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