In the past, Iowa has provided an opportunity for quirkier candidates, but in
this year of record fund-raising sums and monolithic candidacies it's no wonder that
Bush and Gore came out ahead.
The real surprise was the GOP competition.
Bush ended up with only 41 percent of the GOP vote, while the socially conservative pack swept a majority of 54 percent.
Steve Forbes' profligate spending, radical tax ideas and right turn on social
him a surprising 30 percent. Alan Keyes' bombast and command of moral issues gave him an astonishing 14 percent -- who knows how much hisSunday night body-surfing interlude helped.
The Iowa campaign gave Bush
easy control of the middle and demonstrated his problem with conservatives. Once he gets to New Hampshire he'll need to contend with threats
from both sides. It doens't help when Time magazine razzes
Bush with an article on how his favorite philosopher would deal with the problems of the age. The media,
social conservatives and that scrapper from Arizona have combined to create a real crossfire.
With only 1 percent of the vote, Orrin
Hatch, according to the Hotline, is expected to pull out of the race as early as today. The Salt Lake Tribune
seconded that rumor with its report that Hatch, "thanked Iowa voters just for turning out to listen to him" before
the caucuses. John McCain wasn't slated to win much because he
never campaigned in Iowa and his 5 percent of the vote showed it. Despite his
long advocacy of socially conservative issues and articulate presentation, Gary Bauer couldn't overcome a better funded and more charismatic competition and only polled 9 percent.
What does this all mean? Expect to see plenty of press about the resurgent right and
questions about McCain's struggle for the middle. As McCain's campaign manager
Dan Schnur put it, "On Tuesday, everyone will be talking about Iowa, but by
Wednesday, the conversation will be about the upcoming debate. And from Thursday
on, it will be the debate dynamic that is important."
The news from the Democratic side of the campaign is surprising for the opposite
reasons. Al Gore polled a powerful 63 percent and Bill Bradley a badly trailing
35 percent. Even though Bradley surpassed his goal of 30 percent, the poll details
reveal a bullet-ridden run. Gore swept every category of voter except those
earning more than $75,000 per year. While Iowans of every stripe, from labor to the elderly, thought that Gore was the
better leader and candidate.
When asked why low
income voters didn't turn out for him, Bradley said, "My guess is those families
don't know yet what I'm trying to do." In the coming week he will have
to stage a vigorous campaign to tell New Hampsherites exactly what he is trying to do.
Bradley began a renewed effort to generate momentum in New Hampshire
with a new ad featuring Niki Tsongas, the widow of the deceased Senator and
ex-presidential candidate Paul Tsongas. In the ad she says, "just as with Paul -- Bill's
record is being distorted." It's exactly this sort of nuanced character comparison that didn't reach voters in Iowa. Will New Hampshire be very different?
While the rest of the candidates did their last minute swings through Iowa,
McCain had New
Hampshire all to himself and took the opportunity to release a new
ad and repeat the message that he's
the most prepared to be president. The new ad focuses on his military and
foreign policy experience with the slogan, "There's only one man running for
President who knows the military and understands the world." The latest
poll shows McCain ahead by 10 points in New Hampshire.
Democratic hopes for a House majority after the election were dimmed a bit by Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode's announcement that he will run for his House seat in November as an
independent. Dick Gephardt was "heartened that he [Goode] chose not to affiliate himself with the" Republicans.
Meanwhile in the other chamber, Bob
Kerrey's retirement has given Republicans considerable confidence
that they will maintain their Senate majority through the next term. They're
calling their strategy "The Attack of the N