Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: FRIDAY, April 30, 1993                   TAG: 9304300315
DATELINE: RICHMOND                                LENGTH: Medium


A new survey indicates that Gov. Douglas Wilder's efforts to polish his image as a crime-fighter and penny-pinching administrator are paying dividends with the public.

The Commonwealth Poll at Virginia Commonwealth University found that 39 percent of the voters now believe Wilder is doing an excellent or good job, 35 percent grade him "fair" and 25 percent rate him "poor."

A similar poll in the spring of 1992 found 29 percent rating Wilder excellent or good.

Wilder's improved standing came as U.S. Sen. Charles Robb, whom Wilder is considering challenging for re-election next year, appeared to slip slightly in the public eye. Forty-four percent of those polled gave Robb good or excellent marks, down 4 points from a similar survey last year.

Perhaps more significantly for a possible intraparty contest, Wilder actually scored higher than Robb among Democrats. Sixty percent who called themselves Democrats rated his work as good or excellent, 10 percentage points more than gave those ratings to Robb.

While asking respondents to grade each man's work in office, the survey did not ask them to choose between them in a trial heat for the Senate nomination. Scott Keeter, director of the poll, said that despite a bitter rivalry between Robb and Wilder, people who rated one favorably were likely to think highly of the other as well.

The poll also found that a week before the convention that will make her the Democratic nominee for governor, former Attorney General Mary Sue Terry holds a substantial lead over each of her three potential Republican rivals.

Still, the survey indicates "that the electorate is not rushing to judgment" between Terry or Republicans George Allen, Clinton Miller and Earle Williams, Keeter said.

The telephone survey of 803 Virginians, conducted April 7-28, showed Terry 13-22 percentage points ahead of each of the Republicans. Allen, a former congressman from Charlottesville, was her closest rival; she led him 45 percent to 32 percent.

The survey carried a statistical margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The survey suggested that Williams, a millionaire businessman who generally is seen as Allen's chief rival for the GOP nomination, is the weakest of the Republican prospects in the eyes of the public. Terry led him 45 percent to 23 percent; she had a slightly smaller advantage over Miller, 45 percent to 26 percent.


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