WASHINGTON — BARRING a "miracle," or a "major blunder" by Gov. Bill Clinton, even Republicans are beginning to admit that President George Bush may be a one-term president.
Richard Wirthlin, who did polling for President Ronald Reagan, says the Republicans got off to a late start, failed to focus on the future, and took a "fairly lackadaisical" approach toward the campaign until the Democrats roared out to a huge lead.
Now the president is battling to hold his base in the South and West, and risks a landslide loss to Governor Clinton, Dr. Wirthlin told a group of reporters Thursday over a bacon-and-egg breakfast.
One slim hope for Mr. Bush could be the resurgent campaign of Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire.
In recent days, Mr. Perot has moved to as high as 16 percent in the polls, and could soon begin eroding Clinton's double-digit lead over Bush.
Wirthlin suggests Republicans may have hurt themselves with the much-ballyhooed "family values" theme.
The attack on the TV show "Murphy Brown" seemed to be an assault on the lifestyles of millions of Americans, and may have weakened Bush among women voters.
Ironically, the conservatively based family-values agenda failed to help Bush with Southern evangelicals, who backed him in 1988, but now are evenly divided.