Former California governor Ronald Reagan is the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination among the nation's GOP county chairman, traditionally a bellwether of voter sentiment, according to a survey by the Detroit News.
Reagan was favored to win the Republican presidential nomination by 41 percent of the chairmen surveyed, the newspaper said in yesterday's edition. Former Texas governor John B. Connally was a distant second with the support of 23 percent of the chairmen.
Former president Gerald R. Ford was favored by 10 percent; Senate Minority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. by 9 percent, former CIA director George Bush by 6 percent; Rep. Philip M. Crane by 3 percent and Sen. Bob Dole by 2 percent.
"The findings undescore how strong Reagan is," said Robert Teeter, president of Market Opinion Research, which conducted the survey for the paper. "They don't say he's unbeatable. But, God, is he strong. It would take a major turn of events for another candidate to pass him."
A total of 1,377, or about 44 percent, of the nation's Republican chairman responded to the survey.
Four out of five of the respondents said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) would be the hardest Democrat to beat in 1980. Only 9 percent of the chairmen thought President Carter would be hard to beat.