Iowa caucuses prove

Because of the heightened interest in this year’s presidential election, the first few primaries and caucuses are being carefully monitored. The Iowa party caucuses have particularly commanded attention for the past several months, though after their close on Monday night, this attention quickly turned to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primaries. Although the results of the Iowa caucuses were almost exactly as predicted, they are still significant to the campaigns of each candidate — especially Steve Forbes, John McCain and Bill Bradley.
The results of Iowa’s caucuses are similar to the many polls taken of Iowans. Some polls addressed those likely to vote in the fall, some addressed those likely to attend the caucuses and others addressed only members of either the Democratic or Republican parties. The winner in the Republican caucus is Gov. George W. Bush, who earned 41 percent of attendees’ votes. Steve Forbes placed second with 30 percent, followed by Alan Keyes, who earned 14 percent, and Gary Bauer, who earned 9 percent. John McCain, who chose not to campaign in Iowa, placed fifth, with 5 percent, and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch placed last, earning 1 percent. Al Gore defeated Bill Bradley by a margin of nearly 2-to-1, earning 64 percent of Democratic caucus votes. Bradley earned 35 percent. An estimated 8.3 percent of Iowans of voting age participated in the caucuses — 3.5 percent in the Democratic caucus and 4.8 percent in the Republican caucus.
Bush might be favored in several polls, and his estimated campaign contributions of $70 million is certainly intimidating. However, John McCain and Steve Forbes are real challenges to his lead. Orrin Hatch is expected to announce his withdrawal at a press conference today, and Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes are not likely to survive far into the primary season. In order to earn the Republican nomination, Forbes will now need to perform well in next week’s New Hampshire primaries so he is able to earn support in the following primaries. McCain is the projected winner in the upcoming primary, though he, too, will need a victory or a close second-place finish in the following South Carolina primary to threaten Bush’s entrenched position.
In the Democratic competition, Bill Bradley is significantly behind Al Gore, who benefits from his position as vice president, his support from President Clinton and his well-organized campaign operation. He is vulnerable, however, in projected competitions with Bush. The factor this is most often attributed to is referred to as “Clinton fatigue,” the sense that voters would like to see any degree of change from the current administration. Bradley, who is also predicted to lose to Gore in the New Hampshire primaries, should be exploiting this in his campaign. His message should be explicit: Despite Gore’s current lead, he would not successfully compete against Bush, and only a Democrat not associated with Clinton will.
Though Al Gore and George W. Bush currently have commanding leads, each has serious competition in the upcoming primary season. The results of the Iowa caucuses proved these contenders can be successful. Unless these contenders alter their campaigns from lessons learned in Iowa, however, their opportunities for upset will quickly expire.