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The Iowa Caucus: The Race with a Week to Go…

The latest polls of those likely to come out for the first caucuses on the 24th indicate Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George Bush likely to garner most of the support.

GOP candidates are jockeying for a strong second place showing in the state. In recent polls, publisher Steve Forbes was coming in second. Sen. John McCain, who leads in New Hampshire polls, has not campaigned in Iowa and has trailed far behind.

One of the major voting blocks still up in the air in Iowa has been the state’s seizable social conservative vote. Forbes has been pushing a pro-life, pro-family message to voters. Conservative activists Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes and Sen. Orrin Hatch have also stressed their records in courting these influential voters.

Bauer, for one, feels the intensity among his supporters will help him.

“I think that with the passion level we’ve got among our supporters, we’re going to be pleased on caucus night,” said Bauer.

On the Democratic side most observers believe Vice President Gore will handily defeat his rival former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. Tonight the two meet for their final debate prior to next Monday’s vote, but Arthur Sanders, a political scientist at Drake University in Des Moines, says the debate will likely do little to change the outcome.

“Gore clearly has a pretty solid lead and has most of the party stalwarts and the labor unions are behind him at both the statewide and local levels,” Sanders told the Associated Press. “Bradley has an uphill battle but he’s done surprisingly well in building an organization from scratch. His aim is to avoid being beaten so badly that he loses momentum going into New Hampshire.”

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