Iowa caucuses reshuffle field of Democrats
Iowa's Democrats have sent the nation three messages about Election '84: * Walter Mondale has moved so far ahead of his seven opponents that he could lock up his party's presidential nomination by mid-March.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
* Gary Hart is emerging as the leading alternative candidate, especially among Democrats looking for a ''new face.''
* John Glenn's campaign, once expected to challenge Mr. Mondale right through the spring, has fallen into deep, deep trouble.
The Mondale victory in Iowa had been predicted by just about everyone. But few had expected it would be this big, this impressive. He outpolled the second-place finisher, Senator Hart, by about 3 to 1. He whipped Senator Glenn, supposedly his nearest rival, by 9 to 1. His combined vote was nearly equal to every one of the seven other candidates combined.
Mondale showed strength across the board. Data from an ABC-TV computer study which was made available to the Monitor showed that Mondale drew 46 percent of the vote in the state's largest cities. That was to be expected, since voters there are traditionally more liberal, more pro-labor, more activist - the groups known to be most solidly in the Mondale camp.
But the same ABC study found Mondale even stronger, with 50 percent of the vote, in the state's smallest communities, with fewer than 2,500 residents. And among farmers, he claimed 43 percent support.
His weakest showing - an area that other candidates may now try to exploit - was in middle-class suburbs, where his vote dropped to 34 percent.
This broad Mondale strength has suddenly turned the Democratic campaign into what looks like a one-man race.
A Democratic Party activist who has withheld his support from Mondale so far expressed amazement at how well things have gone for the former vice-president:
''I don't think Mondale's staff could have planned things this well if they had tried,'' he said. ''Look at what has happened: John Glenn has suddenly, unexpectedly faded. Who knows why? But it has happened too late for anyone else to take his place, too late for anyone else to mount a major campaign to challenge Mondale in the South, in the big Northern states, and so forth. It looks as if he can almost coast into the nomination from here.''
If there is anyone who can still play on the same field with Mondale after Iowa, it may be Gary Hart.
The Colorado senator, all but written off by the news media a few months ago, surprised some of the experts with a grass-roots strategy in Iowa that in the past has proved successful for others, such as Jimmy Carter.
Nearly complete returns for Iowa give Hart 15 percent of the vote. (Mr. Mondale got 45 percent, George McGovern 13 percent, Alan Cranston 9 percent, John Glenn 5 percent, Reubin Askew 3 percent, Jesse Jackson 1.5 percent, and Ernest Hollings 0.5 percent.)
How did Hart do it? There are several answers.
1. He invested time here. He spent 60 days campaigning in the state, 10 more than Alan Cranston, who was his nearest rival in that category. (Glenn was here only 32 days.)