Pollster sees moderate gains for Democrats
Pollster Peter Hart's research should not be discounted. He's one of the best. But since his clients are Democrats, Mr. Hart's findings are usually interpreted by reporters as containing somewhat of a Democratic point of view.
Maybe that's unfair. But Richard Wirthlin, who polls for the President, and Robert Teeter, with GOP clients, are similarly not always given credit for coming up with totally objective findings.
On the eve of the election, Hart takes strong issue with Mr. Wirthlin's contention that there is a ''pool of patience'' among voters that will help the Republicans score reasonably well on Nov. 2.
Hart's findings show that the American people are ''more fretful'' than just a few months ago. ''There is a certain amount of apprehension,'' he says. ''People are worried, uncertain.''
He says that he has just polled voters on ''how concerned they were that someone in their household would be laid off or lose his job in the next 12 months?'' He says that ''35 to 40 percent said they were concerned a lot.''
Hart says that he is convinced that this ''fear factor'' will override whatever patience remains with the President and his economic program.
Asked if he would make his ''fearless predictions,'' Hart responded in this way:
''I see this election in three parts - contrary to those who put it in just two parts, either winning or losing.
''If the Republicans lose less than 15 House seats, then there will be an affirmation of the President. He will have enough support in the House to move forward with his programs.
''If the Republicans lose 15 to 30 seats, then we will move into an adjustment period with the President no longer able to put together his coalition.
''And if more than 30 seats are lost to the Republicans, then a particularly aggressive Congress will take on the President.''
Here a questioner interrupts: ''But how do you think the House races will come out?''
''I find myself nicely in the middle,'' says Hart. ''A year ago I thought the Republicans would lose 20 seats; today I think they will lose 25.''
Hart's estimate of outcomes in the Senate and governors races is also, he says, ''in the middle, the adjustment category.'' He sees the Republicans losing two Senate seats and thus, still, holding the Senate. He also sees the Democrats winning six additional governorships.
Hart says he feels that the President has injected himself fully into the campaign as an issue. ''Ronald Reagan is the point man,'' he contends, ''and the Democratic Party has become the alternative for the voter.''
Hart adds that the White House has become aware that the President's campaigning isn't helping most GOP candidates. That's the reason, he says, that Reagan's final campaign swings have been confined to ''parts of Illinois, -Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona.''
''Social security is the biggest issue running in favor of the Democrats,'' asserts Hart. ''It's even bigger than unemployment.''
''I see no connection between what is happening to the stock market and what happens in the elections,'' Hart says. But he contends that Reagan made a mistake by tying the rising market to his economic programs. Now, he says, the President ''having lived'' by the rising market will ''have to die'' by the declining market.