Political campaigners have found a way to deal with the barrage of conflicting poll results that flood their candidates' headquarters this year: ignore them. "We really, frankly don't pay much attention to polls," said Susan Lamontagne, press secretary for Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). "The only poll that counts . . . is election day." Lamontagne said the polls in the race for Senate have "been all over" the place, with her candidate leading by as few as two and as many as 17 points, depending on who is doing the polling. The Daily Pennsylvanian/Ivy League poll, however, placed Republican incumbent Specter 10 points behind Democratic challenger Lynn Yeakel. Lamontagne is not the only one who doubts the validity of election polls. Gary Horlick, a local Ross Perot volunteer, said he does not believe the DP/Ivy poll which put his candidate a distant third behind Democratic candidate Bill Clinton and President Bush. The DP/Ivy poll shows Clinton far out of Bush's reach. The poll indicates that the Arkansas Governor leads the President by as few as 34 points and as many as 70 points, depending on the college. But Montgomery County Republican Chairperson Charlie Nahill said he has seen recent pools which indicated that President Bush is "in striking distance" of Clinton. "In most cases, I take polls . . . as 'Nice, thank you, good-bye' because I can't determine how accurate they are," Nahill said. The DP/Ivy poll was conducted at seven of the eight Ivy League schools -- Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities, Dartmouth College and the University -- over three days last week. · Campaign officials said their candidates concentrate on capturing college students' votes to varying degrees over the course of the election season. Nahill said that while the Bush/Quayle campaign has not targeted college students in the past, he thinks things are about to change. "Young people have not voted in very large numbers," he said. "When you don't vote, people tend to overlook you. I think if they come out in large numbers this time around, I think people will begin to take them seriously, and I think they should." But in the Clinton camp, strong support among Ivy League students is seen as an indication that efforts to reach out to younger people have paid off. "[Clinton's lead in the poll] shows that students are responding to Clinton's plans to rebuild the economy and, particularly, to make a college education affordable for everyone in the country," said Jim Whitney, Clinton's Pennsylvania press secretary. "There's been a very long and serious commitment to students thoughout the campaign," he added. "[Clinton] shares their concerns and makes it very clear." And Bob McCarson, communications director for the Yeakel campaign, said the outreach among young voters extends to the Democratic senatorial campaign as well. "I think that the Democratic Party -- Bill Clinton and Lynn Yeakel -- are both speaking a language that resonates with college students, young voters," McCarson said. McCarson said he thinks Yeakel is an attractive candidate to college students because "they, more than any segment of the population, are worried about the future." "I think that there's as much attention paid to them as any group," he added. Despite what the polls say, local politicians said they think the campus will most likely vote Democrat on November 3. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about four-to-one in the 27th ward, and the wards' independents outnumber Republicans approximately two-to-one, said Sheryl George-MacAlpine, 27th ward Democratic leader. The University lies in the 27th ward. And Matthew Wolfe, 27th ward Republican leader, said that while the University has voted for Republicans in the past -- including choosing Republican Auditor General Barbara Hafer for Governor in 1990 -- they have not voted for the last three Republican presidents. But even the politicians said they tend to ignore polls. "Instead of listening to the polls, we should listen to each other and continue to encourage people to vote," said George-MacAlpine.Comments powered by Disqus
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