Unlike 1983, when the AFL-CIO united behind Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale, a multicandidate endorsement by the labor federation -- which would spread labor support among three, four, five or six candidates -- is becoming increasingly likely this year.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has been getting about 200 ballots a day from members responding to a poll in the union newspaper, and according to spokesman Philip Sparks, "There is no consensus at all. Most if not all the candidates have pockets of support, but there is no one candidate who is anywhere close to being the consensus." AFSCME will run its straw poll all summer.

Officials at the Service Employees Union, the United Auto Workers and the Communication Workers are finding a similar lack of consensus.

The Machinists have been taking before and after straw polls in locals where the AFL-CIO video interview of each of the candidates has been shown. "Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis {D} and Sen. Paul Simon {D-Ill.} are the only two gaining support," said Bill Holayter of the Machinists. But no candidate has a consensus, he added. Holayter also said the Machinists' mail-in newspaper poll shows that candidate support "is all over the place." Preference, however, is running more than 84 percent for the Democrats.