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Older Voters Back Dole; Religious Right Supports Buchanan

Older voters and those who value Washington experience helped Bob Dole to his narrow victory in the Iowa GOP caucuses, a poll found. The religious right boosted Pat Buchanan to a strong second-place finish.

One in three caucus-goers Monday night said they were members of the religious right political movement, and 42 percent of those voters supported Buchanan - twice as many as backed Dole, according to the poll.

Lamar Alexander’s “ABC” message as in “Alexander Beats Clinton” - gained him points as he emerged in third place. Sixteen percent of caucus-goers cited the ability to beat Clinton as the most important factor in their vote, and half of those voters backed Alexander.

The poll was conducted among 2,053 voters as they headed into Iowa’s GOP precinct caucuses Monday night. The survey was conducted by Voter News Service, a consortium of The Associated Press, ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.

The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample, higher for subgroups.

Dole, the Senate majority leader from Kansas, was supported by 41 percent of voters who were 60 and older, the poll found. He also got support from a third of voters who said they were not members of the religious right.

Fifteen percent of GOP voters said experience in Washington was the most important issue to them in the caucuses, and 80 percent of those voters backed Dole.

“I think he’s probably the one that’s going to get there in the long run,” said Dole supporter Linda Hanisen of Johnston.

Buchanan scored on a wide range of conservative measures. A third of voters called themselves very conservative; Buchanan got four in 10 of their votes and Dole less than a quarter.

“In getting to know Pat, we feel he’s a man of his word. He says what he means and he means what he says. People have to take more responsibility for their actions or suffer the consequences,” said Jean Iverson, a Buchanan supporter at a suburban Des Moines caucus.

Dole won among the 41 percent who called themselves somewhat conservative and ran even with Alexander among the 21 percent of self-described moderates.

Publisher Steve Forbes, who focused on the flat tax while spending millions of his own dollars to wage an extensive, negative ad campaign, finished well back in nearly all categories.

More than half the GOP voters said they decided which candidate to support more than a week before the caucuses, and 34 percent of those said they voted for Dole. Voters who made up their minds in the last week opted mainly for Alexander and Buchanan.

Nearly six in ten GOP voters said the 72-year-old Dole’s age made no difference to them.

“I don’t think it will affect him in any way. Ronald Reagan was about the same age and it didn’t make any difference for him,” said Doug Gunder of Urbandale.

Other GOP candidates were well back across the board in the poll.

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