Caucus results mirror forecasts: Bush takes lead, Forbes close behind

Kristen Gustafson

DES MOINES, Iowa — Bush spent $57.3 million to win Iowans’ vote. His expenditure paid off, but with a smaller win than expected.
With 97 percent of Iowa’s counties reporting, Bush received 41 percent of the vote, compared to 30 percent to second-place finisher Steve Forbes.
In recent weeks, Alan Keyes, who finished with 14 percent of the vote, and Forbes challenged Bush’s commitment to conservative causes, specifically abortion.
But Bush’s campaign spokespersons said earlier this week that despite the aggressiveness of competing GOP candidates, they anticipated about a 30 percent finish.
“It’s a solid victory and I’m grateful,” Bush told the Associated Press.
Forbes, who has campaigned in Iowa for about two years, finished as expected with about 30 percent of the vote. Of all his policies, his flat tax won him the most support among Monday’s voters.
“I want to thank a great campaign staff who never paid attention to all the pundits, who realized this was a campaign of principles and ideas,” said the publishing magnate who is financing his campaign from his personal fortune.
“It gives us fantastic momentum and creates a good three-way race,” Forbes said.
Alan Keyes’ message resonated with conservative republican voters here.
Paul Smith, a 42-year-old manager of a Des Moines tire dealership, said Keyes appeals to people because of his strong stances on abortion, trade and the military.
“He speaks to the average Iowan,” Smith said. “The thing everyone is afraid of is that he can’t get elected.”
McCain, who is Bush’s foremost contender in the Feb. 1 New Hampshire primaries, finished with less than 5 percent of the vote. McCain did not campaign in Iowa because of limited resources.
Despite the disappointment, McCain said on MSNBC Monday night: “I’ve very happy that 5 percent of Iowans came out and voted for me. Brave souls.”
Gary Bauer and Orrin Hatch finished with 8.6 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Bauer, once an adviser to President Reagan, has said he would stay in the race until the Republican national convention in Philadelphia. Among voters, Bauer’s more popular ideas were those promoting a tough stance against China.
Hatch has said he would consider dropping from the race if he finished lower than fourth place. However, he said Monday night he will continue campaigning in New Hampshire this week.
Voter turnout was 100,000 to 110,000, the amount expected by event planners.
— Compiled from staff and wire reports

Tammy Oseid and Kristin Gustafson welcomes comments at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively.