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51% SAY CLINTON IS DOING GOOD JOB, 46% GIVE DOLE THE NOD, POLL SHOWS

More than half the Americans in a new poll approved of the way President Clinton is doing his job, while 46 percent gave Sen. Bob Dole an approval rating, down from 52 percent in January.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said Clinton deserves to be re-elected while 44 percent said he does not, according to a Time magazine-CNN poll released Saturday.A poll issued a day earlier by the two news organizations showed Clinton with a 12-percentage-point lead over Dole, his likely Republican opponent in the presidential race, but just over half the respondents said it's still possible for Dole to close the gap and win.

The new 51 percent approval rating for Clinton was up from 47 percent in mid-January but down from 53 percent in February. By contrast, 37 percent of those in the latest poll disapproved of the president's performance and 12 percent said they weren't sure.

Dole, the Republicans' leader in the Senate, got a disapproval rating from 38 percent of respondents while 16 percent weren't sure.

Forty-five percent said they have more confidence in Clinton to deal with the major issues facing the nation, compared with 37 percent for the Republicans.

The poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.