Washington — George Bush is on his way -- but he still has a long distance to go to catch up with Ronald Reagan for the Republican presidential nomination. And Jimmy Carter has dealt a devastating blow to Democratic challenger Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy -- but the Massachusetts Senator's candidacy, while fading badly, still is alive.
A Monitor survey in the wake of Iowa's caucus returns -- from on-the-scene Monitor correspondents making assessments of upcoming primaries -- shows:
* Mr. Bush has picked up impressive momentum that will help him immensely.
He now is given a chance of moving up close to or perhaps even beating front-runner Reagan in New Hampshire on Feb. 26.
He could make a good showing in Massachusetts (March 4) -- although Mr. Reagan still may be the eventual winner there.
He may win the "beauty contest" primary in Vermont (March 4).
He has gained the necessary "name recognition" in Illinois to make him a serious contender there -- but Ronald Reagan still is leading heading toward the March 18 primary there.
And in coming Southern primaries -- Florida, Alabama, Georgia (all three on March 11) and South Carolina (March 8) -- former Central Intelligence Agency chief Bush "may do better now." But he still is considered to be trailing Mr. Reagan and John Connally.
Mr. Bush's great task now (as described by Monitor observers) is to become the candidate of GOP moderates while, at the same time, being conservative enough to woo away Reagan supporters who have decided the Californian has become stale on the issues.
* President Carter's 2-to-1 win over Senator Kennedy in Iowa is so big that it may well give him the momentum to wrap up the race early.
Some Washington observers now are saying that -- despite the Kennedy assertion that he will go all the way to the convention -- the New Englander may drop out if he loses in New Hampshire. And, as of now, Mr. Carter seems to have a narrow lead among Democrats in that key early primary test.
Mr. Kennedy, as expected, is well ahead in Massachusetts -- but he may lose some ground in the aftermath of the Iowa defeat. And a New Hampshire loss just might make a defeat at the hands of the President in Massachusetts at least a remote possibility. As of now the prospect is that Mr. Carter would, at best, get only 40 percent on the vote.
But the President seems well on his way to win the Florida, Georgia, and Alabama primaries -- and he is believed to have a slight lead over Senator Kennedy won in the very important Illinois primary.
"Kennedy is hanging on by his fingernails," one high- level Democrat told the Monitor.
Ray Jenkins, assistant presidential press secretary, had this to say, at a breakfast with reporters, of the President's impressive with in Iowa: "It's a blow to Kennedy. I would think it would cause him to think some second thoughts about running." The Iowa caucus outcome, when measured up against upcoming primaries, has this impact on other candidates:
John Connally: The Texan finished fourth, which was disappointing to him. Mr. Connally went all out in the last few days in Iowa. But it wasn't enough. If he can't do better than this very soon (and this doesn't now seem likely) he will have to face the prospect of dropping out.
Howard H. Baker Jr.: His third place finish behind Mr. Reagan has to encourage the Senate minority leader. Baker may have picked up important momentum. He well could become a factor in upcoming primaries. In fact, there are some observers who now see Mr. Reagan fading and a two-man race between Bush and Baker emerging.
Edmund G. Brown Jr.: The California governor really didn't contend in Iowa, and observers don't see him doing well in any of the upcoming primaries. "Brown is out of it, even though he doesn't seem to know it" -- or words to this effect -- is the assessment now being made of his status.
Philip Crane: The Illinois congressman probably did as well as he could have anticipated in Iowa -- fifth just behind John Connally. He may well be taking some votes away from Reagan and Connally. But an early Crane win in any of the primaries doesn't seem at all likely.
John Anderson: With only a small, enthusiastic organization in Iowa, the Illinois moderate was sixth, behind Crane. Congressman Anderson, himself, thinks he will be more acceptable to voters in New England, particularly in Massachusetts, than he was to Iowans. and he's working quite hard in that region.
Time will tell whether the articulate Mr. Anderson can move up toward the top of the pack.
Robert Dole: The senator from Kansas finished last among those GOP candidates who were regarded as serious contenders. He has to be disheartened