Texas Governor George Bush has had a comfortable victory in the Iowa Republican Party caucus today. Bush has polled 41% of the votes cast, compared to 30% for millionaire publisher Steve Forbes.
The next nearest contender was black talk-show host and former ambassador Alan Keyes on 14%. Conservative morals campaigner Gary Bauer polled 9%, ahead of Arizona Senator John McCain on 5%. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch polled 1%.
The result should cement Bush’s position as the most-favoured candidate for the Grand Old Party (GOP), although next week’s primary election in New Hampshire could be won by McCain. Forbes will undoubtedly take comfort from the result.
Early in the night, American media networks also proclaimed Vice-President Al Gore the victor in the Democratic Party caucus, but figures were slow to come in. Latest counting has Gore polling 66% to Bradley’s 33%.
The caucus elections reflect the votes of approximately 100,000 registered voters in each party. They are held in several hundred precincts across the state and do not necessarily involve a secret ballot. The primary elections starting next week in New Hampshire are considered a more reliable indication of support for the competing candidates.
An upset win by McCain in New Hampshire would not necessarily be enough to derail the Bush campaign, although a Bush defeat in South Carolina on February 19 would present a problem for the putative nominee, especially if McCain was able to do well in Michigan and his home state of Arizona on February 22.
Gore is clearly cruising to a comfortable victory in the Democratic Party. The advantage of vice-presidential incumbency, Gore’s more assertive campaigning style, combined with question marks over Bradley’s health, point to an early withdrawal by the former New Jersey senator.