Bush wins percent statewide

by Kristin Gustafson

Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s statewide landslide victory in Tuesday’s Republican caucuses was no surprise to many political pundits.
However, campus-area precincts failed to give Bush as great a nod.
By 11 p.m., Bush had grabbed 53 percent of the campus vote, compared with 63 percent statewide.
After swapping first-place primary finishes with Bush since January, Arizona Sen. John McCain garnered 17 percent statewide. However, McCain fared better on campus, taking 25 percent of the vote.
Finishing second statewide was former Ambassador Alan Keyes, who challenged McCain to a surprisingly close race. Keyes finished with 20 percent of the state vote and 14 percent of the campus-area vote.
The percentages reflect the straw-poll ballots cast by thousands of Minnesota Republicans who gathered Tuesday night. A dozen states held their primaries or caucuses Tuesday.
The Democratic caucuses will be held Saturday and Sunday.
At Van Cleve Community Center in the Como neighborhood, GOP students and area residents sat in a circle on folding chairs, many stumbling through an unfamiliar process.
One group of 37 included several University students — some there for extra credit and others for their political voice — who attended for their first caucus.
Turnout was about five times more than the last presidential caucus, one political observer said.
A newly converted McCain supporter, aerospace engineering freshman Stephanie Cowan, sat between two other McCain activists and was appointed precinct chairwoman.
It was her first caucus.
“The country is in need of someone who can lead us,” Cowan said.
McCain’s tax-reform position — cutting out the loopholes, moving toward a flat tax and lowering the tax bracket — should concern University students who will soon be in the work force and paying taxes, she said.
“I’m all for taxes, but I believe we spend a lot on what is not necessary, and a lot of people pay more than they should,” Cowan said.
Jamie Kreuser, a political science freshman sitting next to Cowan, was selected as the group’s secretary.
McCain’s support for primary school vouchers, opposition to abortion and McCain’s “utmost morals” helped win her support, Kreuser said.
However, despite the students’ influx into the caucuses, they could not get a statewide McCain victory.
Keyes gave McCain a surprising run for his money, finishing much higher than predicted in polls.
Joseph Blum, a Keyes supporter and freshman studying German, said he shifted his support from Bush to Keyes after taking an online quiz matching voter issues to presidential candidates.
“I like (Keyes’) conservative aspect,” he said. Specifically, Blum said he agreed with Keyes’ stances opposing abortion and affirmative action.
Before Tuesday’s caucuses, Blum predicted Keyes would win solidly in Minnesota, with 44 percent of the vote. He also predicted a 50 percent Keyes victory on campus.
Bush’s victory was not surprising to many. Polls, pundits and others predicted his win.
Some, like computer science sophomore and Bush supporter Brian Maliszewski, said he would skip caucus night to do his homework.
“It’s already a non-issue,” he said midday Tuesday. “I think Bush has it sealed up.”
Apparently, he had.
— Staff reporter Megan Boldt contributed to this story.
Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and federal government and welcomes comments at [email protected]