Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination with cross-country primary victories yesterday, while President Bush continued his unbeaten string. But as the tumultuous primary season drew to a close, many voters said they were ready to reject both candidates and defect to Texas businessman Ross Perot in the fall campaign.

Perot was not on any ballot yesterday, but his appeal to a frustrated electorate, particularly evident in megastate California, underscored the continuing dissatisfaction with Bush and Clinton, even among voters loyal enough to participate in their party primaries. Perot's likely independent candidacy sets up a competitive, three-person battle in the general election campaign that may be unlike any seen in modern times.

Clinton capped his nomination marathon race with victories in Ohio, New Jersey, Alabama, Montana and New Mexico. In California, the biggest prize on the last major day of the primary season, Clinton appeared to defeat former California governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. in a tight race, according to the Associated Press.

The polls in California showed how rapidly Perot has moved to capitalize on the weaknesses of Bush and Clinton. Voters in both parties were asked how they would have voted if Perot had been on their ballots yesterday. Among Republicans, Perot had 46 percent to Bush's 42 percent; among Democrats, it was Perot 33 percent, Clinton 31 percent and Brown 27 percent.

Perot's combined support among Republican and Democratic primary voters in California yesterday mirrored the findings of recent polls in the state, with 40 percent saying they would vote for him for president in November, compared to 26 percent for Clinton and 25 percent for Bush.

Perot's appeal appeared strongest among white males who are disaffected with Democratic liberalism or Republican conservatism, who see the budget deficit as a major problem and want to shake up the federal government.

In Ohio, Perot would have defeated Clinton in the Democratic primary had he been on the ballot, and would have taken a third of the vote against Bush, according to exit polls reported by Cable News Network. In New Jersey, 29 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of Republicans said they would have supported Perot yesterday.

Asked how they planned to vote in November, 36 percent of the Democratic voters in California questioned in the exit polls yesterday said they would support Perot while Perot drew 42 percent among Republican primary voters.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Ronald H. Brown dismissed the exit polls showing Perot's appeal. "I think there is an irrational obsession with Ross Perot," Brown said. "Ross Perot has not yet faced one voter in one state. He hasn't had anybody run against him yet. He's gotten a virtual free ride. Nobody can seriously run for president of the United States when voters know little or nothing about him and don't know what his stands are on issues. We're just moving to a new stage in this contest, where tough questions will be asked and answers ought to be expected."

Clinton's victories gave him more than the 2,145 national convention delegates needed to lock up the Democratic nomination and once more showed the resilience of a candidate who was battered with character questions earlier this year and fought his way back to the top.

Even in Clinton's moment of triumph, however, voters signaled their unease, with California Democrats split evenly on whether they view him favorably or unfavorably.

Speaking to supporters in Los Angeles last night, Clinton said "the election for America's future begins tomorrow," and in a clear attack on Bush and Perot, declared, "I've got one opponent who says he'll do whatever it takes to hold on to the White House. Then there's another person running who says he'll spend whatever it takes to get to the White House."

Appearing on a CBS News call-in show later, Clinton said Perot was doing well now because he had enough money "to buy his way around" the primary process and the "months and months of scrutiny" that goes with it.

"Yes, he's doing well today, but in the end . . . he'll have to stand on the stage, he'll have to debate, he'll have to talk about who has the real record of change, who's really been independent of all these special interests that all the politicians always criticize and who's got a plan for the future. I can win this race if it's really about record, change, proven leadership and who actually took on special interests instead of just talking about it."

Bush, at the lowest point of his presidency in terms of favorability ratings, easily dispatched conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan in every primary, but still ended the season looking like a vulnerable incumbent scrambling to rebuild his popularity.

Yesterday Bush called his top campaign strategists to the White House for a lengthy session in which the group split over what tactics the president should pursue. Vice President Quayle and Republican National Committee Chairman Richard N. Bond, worried that the president looks too timid, are said to support a more aggressive stance against Perot. Campaign chairman Robert Teeter urged Bush to remain "presidential," using three forays into foreign policy the next month to illustrate his handling of the responsibilities of the Oval Office.

In a statement issued by the White House last night, Bush said, "As November approaches, I believe there will be two questions foremost in the minds of American voters. Who has the best ideas for America? Who do you trust to lead this country?" The president also said that in November, "We can break the Washington lawmaking gridlock and set a new course for the next American century."

The California results highlighted one of Bush's political problems in the general election: Roughly three in four Republican voters yesterday said the party platform either should support legalized abortion or make no statement on the issue, according to exit polls. A quarter said they supported the party's position opposing abortion.

The exit polls in California showed Perot's appeal across party lines, but suggested that he was drawing more support from Bush among Republicans than from Clinton among Democrats. The poll found that among Republican primary voters, Perot was viewed favorably by roughly three voters in five. Democrats, on the other hand, split evenly, with nearly half saying they had an unfavorable view of Perot.

Perot did not comment on yesterday's primaries, but in an interview shown on the CBS call-in program, he hedged on whether he would raise taxes as president, saying he would consider it "if all else failed," but added that giving the government more money would be like "giving more narcotic to an addict."

Asked by CBS anchorman Dan Rather whether that meant "read my lips, no new taxes," referring to Bush's 1988 promise, Perot replied, "No, you can't ever quote me saying anything that stupid."

Perot said he was still studying how to reduce the budget deficit, but promised to send teams of experts into all the departments of government to root out waste and "restructure everything to give the proper emphasis to rebuilding our country."

With the Democratic campaign finally over, Clinton was endorsed last night by former Massachusetts senator Paul E. Tsongas, his main competitor in the early primaries. But Brown, asked by CBS News if he was ready to endorse Clinton, replied: "Nope, not yet."

In an interview with CNN's Gene Randall, Clinton described himself as a "constructive outsider" and "a radical moderate in a way." He said of the Perot phenomenon: "I understand it. The American people are disillusioned with both parties." He said the only way for him to go forth is "to keep going back to the people and talking sense to them. They want an outsider, but they want someone who can get something done."

Staff writers Ann Devroy in Washington, David Maraniss in California and researcher Mark Stencel in Washington contributed to this report.

......................................... Estimated in Alabama,

......................................... California,

................ Total prior to.......... Montana, New Jersey,

................ yesterday............... New Mexico, Ohio

REPUBLICANS

1,105 needed for nomination

Bush............ 1,414................... 397

Buchanan........... 76..................... 0

Uncommitted........ 16.................... 10

DEMOCRATS

2,145 needed for nomination

Clinton........... 2,059................ 458

Tsongas............. 548.................. 5

Brown............... 388................ 212

Uncommitted......... 476................. 22

SOURCE: Associated Press at 2:00 a.m.

The first column of numbers for Democrats and Republicans is labeled % Voters. Numbers in those columns add down the column for each category. For example, 7% of Democrats who voted yesterday in the Democratic primary said they would vote for George Bush in November, 48% said they would vote for Bill Clinton, 36% said they would vote for Ross Perot and 6% said they would not vote. Not all of these categories will add to 100% because RdonUt knowS is not included and because of the way the numbers are rounded.

The remaining columns represent the percentage of a category who voted for each of the listed candidates in yesterdayUs primary, and those numbers are to be read across the row. For example, of the 7% of Democrats who said they would vote for George Bush in November, 18% voted for Clinton, 62% voted for Brown and 14% voted for Tsongas in the primary. Those numbers probably will add to less than 100% because not all candidates are listed.

DEMOCRATS

............................ %...................................

..........................Voters... Clinton... Brown... Tsongas

IF THESE ARE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN NOVEMBER, WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR?

George Bush ................ 7 .... 18 ........ 62 ......... 14

Bill Clinton .............. 48 .... 63 ........ 31 .......... 5

Ross Perot ................ 36 .... 25 ........ 47 .......... 9

Would not vote for

President .................. 6 ..... 4 ........ 84 .......... 8

WHICH BEST DESCRIBES YOUR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT (IN THIS PRIMARY)?

I strongly favor my

candidate ................. 31 .... 40 ........ 45 .......... 4

I like my candidate but

with reservations ......... 40 .... 54 ........ 39 .......... 4

I dislike the other

candidates ......... ...... 27 .... 26 ........ 48 ......... 14

IF ROSS PEROT HAD BEEN ON THE BALLOT TODAY, WOULD YOU HAVE VOTED FOR:

Jerry Brown ............... 27 ..... 3 ........ 96........... 0

Bill Clinton .............. 31 .... 94 ......... 4 .......... 1

Ross Perot ................ 33 .... 31 ........ 40 .......... 9

Paul Tsongas ............... 4 ..... - ......... - ......... -

IF ROSS PEROT HAD BEEN ON THE BALLOT TODAY, WOULD YOU HAVE VOTED FOR:

Patrick Buchanan .......... NA ..... NA ........ NA ......... NA

George Bush ............... NA ..... NA ........ NA ......... NA

Ross Perot ................ NA ..... NA ........ NA ......... NA

WHICH IS MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR RECENT URBAN UNREST?

A breakdown in family

values ................... 35 ..... 36 ......... 43 ........ 12

Government neglect of

the cities ................ 59 ..... 46 ......... 43 ......... 4

DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD WORK BETTER IF WE ELECTED ALL NEW PEOPLE THIS YEAR?

Agree ..................... 54 ...... 41 ........ 43 ......... 5

Disagree .................. 42 ...... 44 ........ 42 ......... 9

SHOULD THE DEMOCRATIC (REPUBLICAN) PARTY PLATFORM:

Support keeping abortion

legal ...................... 66 ..... 43 ......... 43 ........ 7

Oppose keeping abortion

legal ...................... 12 ..... 41 ......... 44 ........ 8

Take no official stand on

abortion ................... 20 ..... 41 .......... 42 ....... 4

IN GENERAL, IS YOUR OPINION OF GEORGE BUSH:

Favorable .................. 12 ..... 31 .......... 50 ...... 11

Not favorable............... 86 ..... 44 .......... 42 ....... 6

IN GENERAL, IS YOUR OPINION OF BILL CLINTON:

Favorable .................. 48 ..... 73 .......... 23 ....... 3

Not favorable .............. 48 ..... 11 .......... 63 ...... 11

IN GENERAL, IS YOUR OPINION OF ROSS PEROT:

Favorable................... 46 ..... 35 .......... 42 ....... 8

Not favorable .............. 46 ..... 48 .......... 44 ....... 6

REPUBLICANS

................................. % .........................

................................ Voters.... Bush.... Buchanan

IF THESE ARE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN NOVEMBER, WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR?

George Bush ........................49 .....87 ..... 12

Bill Clinton ....................... 3 ..... - ...... -

Ross Perot ........................ 42..... 44...... 30

Would not vote for President........ 2 ..... - ...... -

WHICH BEST DESCRIBES YOUR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT (IN THIS PRIMARY)?

I strongly favor my candidate....... 26..... 71..... 13

I like my candidate but with

reservations ....................... 43..... 80..... 14

I dislike the other candidates...... 29..... 44..... 42

IF ROSS PEROT HAD BEEN ON THE BALLOT TODAY, WOULD YOU HAVE VOTED FOR:

Jerry Brown ........................ NA..... NA...... NA

Bill Clinton ....................... NA..... NA...... NA

Ross Perot ......................... NA..... NA...... NA

Paul Tsongas ....................... NA..... NA...... NA

IF ROSS PEROT HAD BEEN ON THE BALLOT TODAY, WOULD YOU HAVE VOTED FOR:

Patrick Buchanan .................... 9..... 12...... 88

George Bush ........................ 42..... 98....... 1

Ross Perot ......................... 46..... 46...... 29

WHICH IS MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR RECENT URBAN UNREST?

A breakdown in family values ....... 70...... 68..... 22

Government neglect of the cities .. 24...... 59..... 24

DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD WORK BETTER IF WE ELECTED ALL NEW PEOPLE THIS YEAR?

Agree .......... ....................49...... 50...... 32

Disagree ........................... 47...... 83...... 12

SHOULD THE DEMOCRATIC (REPUBLICAN) PARTY PLATFORM:

Support keeping abortion legal...... 48...... 63...... 21

Oppose keeping abortion legal....... 25...... 71...... 23

Take no official stand on abortion ..25.. ....65...... 25

IN GENERAL, IS YOUR OPINION OF GEORGE BUSH:

Favorable........................... 58...... 89....... 8

Not favorable ...................... 39...... 31...... 44

IN GENERAL, IS YOUR OPINION OF BILL CLINTON:

Favorable........................... 14...... 71...... 24

Not favorable....................... 82...... 65...... 22

IN GENERAL, IS YOUR OPINION OF ROSS PEROT:

Favorable........................... 58...... 56...... 26

Not favorable ...................... 35...... 78...... 20

NOTE: Data show adjusted exit poll results for 2,083 Democrats and 1,010 Republicans randomly selected at the polls through 11:00 p.m. (EDT) Tuesday, June 2. Final percentages may differ slightly. Dashes represent data below 1 percent. Poll results were provided by Voter Research and Surveys of New York, an association of ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC News. Margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 2.5 to 3 percentage points. Results based on part of the sample will have larger margins of error. Interviewing was conducted by Chilton Research Services of Radnor, Pa.

Compiled by Senior Polling Analyst Sharon Warde