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Published: Tuesday, 3/7/2000

This poll has my vote for best survey

Not just any Tuesday, but one of great choices.

Which doughy white guy? Which doughy pastry?

Personally, I go for the ones with the prune filling. I'll leave it to you to decide whether I'm talking about presidential candidates or paczki.

On this Super Tuesday, I'm thinking back to a very old poll, released all of last Monday, which in poll years is old indeed.

But this one, unlike much of mind-numbing data, remains memorable.

For example: Think of the top four presidential candidates, wearing their ties and earnest expressions.

Which of them, in the words of survey, "would you rather kill yourself than be stuck alone with for a week?''

Well. Here's something different!

By the way, Al Gore - often paired with the adjective "wooden'' - won hands down. The veep was first choice for nearly 37 per cent of 800 randomly chosen registered voters who took part in this phone survey last month.

George W. Bush was second, with nearly 28 per cent.

Seems we're most likely to choose life if facing a week alone with John McCain (9.1 per cent), although Bill Bradley's 9.5 per cent is virtually indistinguishable.

Want more? How about: Which candidate would be most "painfully awful to listen to if they were to sing 'Feelings' at a karaoke bar?''

Poor Al Gore. Coming in first with 36 per cent, he can't catch a break. Here too, he was trailed by George Bush (23 per cent), and the also-rans, Mr. Bradley (23 per cent) and Mr. McCain (12 per cent).

These and other atypical questions are from Republican poll guru Frank Luntz, perhaps best remembered as the pollster of record for the "Contract with America,'' the one in which the government essentially nullified most contracts with its citizens, but never mind, I don't mean to be such a nag, let alone so Last Century.

"Yes,'' conceded Mr. Luntz's press release, "the questions are amusing, but they represent important perceptions, attributes, and characteristics that candidates either desperately want to have or frantically want to shed. Remember, the 2000 election is more about personalities than issues.''

Mr. Luntz took pains to note that, in every election since 1952, "he more 'likable' candidate has won,'' and in his off-beat poll, the Lone Star governor - who once mockingly mimicked the tearful pleading of a Texas death-row prisoner on the eve of her execution is seen overall as "the fun candidate.''

Well, who knows. Maybe all 800 respondents went to college with George and Barbara's boy.

Aside from their "fun'' qualities, the apparent front-runners on Super Tuesday - The Shrub and The Plank - are also the ones considered the least ethical.

Forty-six per cent of those polled said that, of the four candidates, Mr. Bush would have been most likely to cheat in college. Mr. Gore, in second place, was so designated by 30 per cent.

And who is most likely to cheat at golf today? Since Bill Clinton wasn't among the possibilities, once again Mr. Bush came in first (36 per cent), followed by Mr. Gore (30 per cent).

Meanwhile, 46 per cent thought Mr. Bush was most likely to be audited by the IRS, followed again by Mr. Gore, with 29 per cent.

My favorite shred of data showed that 39 per cent of those polled chose Mr. Gore, and 21 per cent Mr. Bush, as the candidate "most likely to be an alien.''

Hey, the truth is out there.

Roberta de Boer's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Readers may call her at 724-6086, or e-mail roberta@theblade.com.



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