Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) would defeat either Gerald R. Ford or Ronald Reagan if the presidential election were held today.
Kennedy leads Ford by 51 to 41 percent, with 1 percent of the vote going to other candidates and 7 percent undecided. Kennedy has an even more substantial lead over Reagan - 56 to 36 percent with 1 percent going to other and 7 percent undecided.
An April Gallup Poll revealed Ford and Reagan are the two top choices of GOP voters across the nation to be the party's nominess for the presidency in 1980 while Democrats chose Kennedy by a substantial margin over President Carter.
In the same survey, Carter led Ford and Reagan in head-to-head trial heats even though these contests were conducted at a time when Carter's personal popularity had reached its lowest recorded point - 39 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.
A comparison of Kennedy's and Carter's strength against each of the two Republicans has mixed results.
Against former president Ford both Kennedy and Carter win 51 percent of the vote, with Kennedy's lead marginally wider.
However, against Reagan, Kennedy's holds a 20 point lead compared to Carter's 4 point lead.
It should be noted that these early trial tests are indicative only of potential candidate strength at the time the survey was conducted and should be interpreted in this light only.
Here are the questions asked in the survey:
Suppose the presidential election were being held today. If Sen. Edward Kennedy were the Democratic candidate and Gerald Ford/Ronald Reagan were the Republican candidate, which would you like to see win? (Those who named another person or who were undecided were asked: As of today, do you lean more to Kennedy, the Democrat, or to Ford/Reagan, the Republican?)
The results reported today are based on interviews with 836 registered voters out of a total sample of 1,151 adults, 18 and older, interviewed in more than 300 scientifically selected localities during May 19-22.