Poll Says 1 in 4 Voters Back Perot

ONE in four registered voters say they would vote for Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot if the presidential election were held today, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday.

The poll signaled Mr. Perot's grass-roots campaign is picking up steam, though the avowed "outsider" says he will run only if supporters get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.

The poll was conducted April 11-14 among 1,001 registered voters and has a 4 percentage point margin of error.

President Bush led the field with 38 percent of the voters saying they would back him or lean toward his reelection.

Democratic front-runner Bill Clinton followed with a 30 percent rating, and independent Perot scored 25 percent.

Perot is not officially running. But for the past seven weeks He has been riding high on a wave of voter discontent with Washington. His personal fortune is estimated at more than $2 billion, and Perot has said he is willing to spend "whatever it takes" to fund a campaign - even as much as $150 million.

Although 31 percent of the voters questioned said they had a positive reaction to the tough-talking businessman, only 15 percent said they knew much about Perot.

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