A new public opinion poll Friday showed President Clinton's lead over prospective Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole down significantly in a month, to six percentage points.
The CNN/Time magazine poll gave Democrat Clinton the support of 49 percent of respondents and Dole 43 percent. A month ago, Clinton led 56 to 34 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.The poll was the first to be taken since Dole resigned his Senate seat Tuesday. It might also reflect the effect of the Whitewater case and the latest White House's improperly gathering of more than 400 personal FBI files, including those of some prominent Republicans.
Dole also appeared to have benefited from his call for a clause to be added to the Republican anti-abortion platform stating tolerance for party members who support abortion rights. The poll showed wide support for Dole's stance.
This survey was the first in several months to show Clinton leading by less than 10 percentage points. Unless or until its findings are duplicated in other polls, it may be regarded with some caution. Other recent polls have shown Clinton's lead at a steady 15 to 20 percentage points.
The survey showed Clinton's approval rating still at a healthy 50 percent, but six points lower than a month ago.
Dole, campaigning in Alabama and Georgia, reacted cautiously to the results.
"Obviously when the polls look good you're happier, they look bad, you're not happy. But my view is that polls are polls. I don't know what it means. I assume we got a little bump out of leaving the Senate, but I can only do that once," he told reporters aboard his plane.