Dornan Trails Badly in Race To Recapture Seat, Poll Finds
By Ceci Connolly
A new poll shows that voluble former representative Robert K. Dornan (R-Calif.) is going to have a tough time recapturing the seat he lost in 1996 in a bitter, racially tinged fight against Democrat Loretta Sanchez.
The survey, conducted by Chapman University in Orange, Calif., found Sanchez with a commanding 21 percentage-point lead. Most dramatically, she leads among voters in every racial and ethnic category, and even fares well with Republicans.
Of the Republicans surveyed, 43 percent said they are inclined to vote for Dornan, a caustic former Air Force pilot known as "B-1 Bob," while Sanchez is supported by 26 percent of Republicans.
Sanchez, after defeating Dornan by 984 votes in 1996 in a race in which he charged vote fraud, now has a comfortable job approval rating of 47 percent of the respondents.
The voters in California's 46th Congressional District also told pollsters they have tired of Dornan's legendary combative style. Although a majority of residents believe he knows more about domestic and foreign policy than Sanchez, most say she can get more accomplished in Congress. As one voter told the Orange County Register: "I think he's a fanatic."
Dornan blames his image problems on his media coverage. "Everybody's aware that she's an airhead, but they're going to vote for her anyway," he said. "They see me as this mean-hearted guy. . . . I've got a lot of educating to do."
About 26 percent of the district's voters remain undecided. The poll surveyed 436 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. It was conducted by telephone in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
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