Iowa Straw Vote -- They're Off and Running!

Bush 7418 31%
Forbes 4921 21
Dole 3410 15
Bauer 2114 9
Buchanan 1719 7
Alexander 1428 6
Keyes 1101 5
Quayle 916 4
Hatch 558 2
(McCain ----)

Total 23595


One must look with curiousity at the spin being put on the results of the Iowa caucuses.
But it is little different than the spin that has been run out of the major media for years.
Bush was the clear winner in the straw poll, BUT that is only the tip of the story. He
won, but his front-runner status has to be a little shakier following the results in Iowa.
He certainly did not win convincingly, as the media hype would have us accept.
The big losers in the contest were Alexander and Buchanan, with Elizabeth Dole
chasing them for a slot. Buchanan may have lost the most, but he will remain in the
race, and the media will continue to act as if he is or should be a serious contender.
But while his closed view of the world is not going to carry him much higher in the race,
persistance in reporting his diatribes will probably work to hold a segment of the
electorate from turning to more responsible candidates and away from any real
effort to address the issues. He played a significant role in drawing down Republican
votes in the last two elections, and some might hope that he would serve a similar
function in 2000. He certainly could be useful as a whipping boy to hold off some
measure of conservative support from jelling around Forbes.

But the same media spinners are now suggesting that Forbes should have done
much better since he spent so heavily. They also intimate that he is a dull campaigner
who lacks enthusiasm. But anyone believing that has not listened to what he has been
saying. His message is not rhetorical bombast and that may not work well for some
who see politics as emotional rhetoric. But Steve Forbes probably showed up
everyone in Iowa, and his finish situates him well for the contests that will be held
early in the new year.

Lamar Alexander will have serious problems raising money to continue in the race
for very long, and although that may be less the situation for Elizabeth Dole, it will
still be a relevant factor in her effort. Mrs. Dole was rumored just weeks ago as
nearly ready to drop out of the race, but maintaining her candidacy might position
her nicely for a shot at the Vice Presidential nomination. But the popular rendition
is that Mrs. Dole was the big gainer in the results, having done so well while spending
so comparatively little!


At this juncture, it looks like a two person race, for all practical purposes, between
Bush and Forbes, and given the somewhat 'weak' showing of the Texas governor
in Iowa, Forbes may have gained a significant boost from the straw poll on August 14.
Too date, no Iowa winner has gone on to win the Presidency, and while that may not
be that significant in itself, there is a good possibility of a front-runner stumbling along
the way. Bush has some unanswered questions and a little baggage that may keep
conservative support from falling in line behind him. Something that Bush may find
more necessary now is to begin speaking out more forcefully on issues, something
his presumed front-runner position has allowed him to somewhat skirt. He nevertheless
cuts a striking campaign image and has a deep pocket to ride on.

But so, too, does Forbes. And although he must contend with a criticism that he has
never won or held elective office, that may not be such a negative factor. Not only
is there the record of the vote winning of Perot, but it should be noted that well
over half of the votes cast in the Iowa caucuses went to candidates who have not
held public office. That does not predict that they will switch to Forbes, but it does
suggest that a substantive number of voters do not see it as a handicap.

One positive outcome of Iowa, at least as far as the media is concerned, is that the
race is afterall a horserace. That may not be to the advantage of the people of the
nation, and it may backfire on the media predispositions and serve to make Forbes'
presence in the race somewhat stronger. While the Bush people probably are not
yet 'worried' because of Iowa, the Forbes' camp must cleary be elated.




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