George Bush's winning coalition was in place by mid-September, but his choice of Sen. Dan Quayle as a running mate cost him about 2 million votes and denied him a landslide, a poll released Tuesday revealed.
The poll of 2,022 registered voters conducted Nov. 9-10 by the Gallup Organization for the Times-Mirror Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday, found that the selection of Quayle cost Bush about 4 percent of the popular vote.Had Bush gotten that extra 4 percent, the survey said, Bush's 54 percent to 46 percent victory over Democrat Michael Dukakis Nov. 8 would have risen to nearly 58 percent - well above the 55 percent margin generally considered to be a landslide win in a presidential race.
The poll found that 7 percent of those who voted for Dukakis cast "anti-Quayle" votes and that another 1 percent voted for Dukakis because of his running mate, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas.
"Quayle probably cost Bush 4 percent of the vote," Andy Kohut of the Gallup Organization said in releasing the survey. "It (the election) would have been perceived much differently if you add even three points onto 54 (percent)."
Most of the voter volatility toward the end of the campaign, when Dukakis seemed to be closing Bush's double-digit lead, occurred among Democrat-oriented voters, the poll showed.
Bush did not make as many inroads among traditionally Democratic voters this year as President Reagan did in 1984, in part because of the nasty nature of Bush's campaign against Dukakis and because of Quayle, the poll said.
And more voters supported Dukakis because they did not like Bush than the other way around. Fewer Bush votes were anti-Dukakis votes.
Had voters been given an opportunity on the ballot to register a vote of "no confidence" in either candidate, 30 percent of those surveyed said they would have done so, compared to 39 percent who said the same thing in 1980 when President Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan.