Vice President Bush, far from being a wimp, appears, in Texas at least, like "the 400-pound gorilla in the Republican cage right now," according to pollster Richard Murray, whose latest reading for The University of Houston Center for Public Policy shows the vice president preferred by 57 percent of Republican voters in Texas. Sen. Robert J. Dole (Kan.) ran a poor second with 11 percent, followed by Pat Robertson with 7 percent and Rep. Jack Kemp (N.Y.) with 4 percent. The poll was conducted Oct. 11-20, ending the day after the stock market collapsed. Only 20 percent of the GOP voters were undecided in Texas, which will hold the largest state primary on Super Tuesday next March 8.

On the Democratic side, undecided held a large lead, with 44 percent, followed by Jesse L. Jackson with 26 percent, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) and Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis with 7 percent each, Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (Tenn.), the only southerner in the race, with 6 percent, Sen. Paul Simon (Ill.) with 3 percent and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt with 2 percent. But Jackson also had the highest negative rating in the poll, at 36 percent among Democrats and 51 percent overall.

Bush's support seemed solid. Murray said the vice president is not considered a wimp in Texas because "images of Bush were shaped by his development as a Texas businessman and politician. People here, particularly those who are going to vote in the Republican primary, know him." Bush was rated positively by 72 percent of the respondents from both parties and by 85 percent of the Republicans.