Still, the caucus was a major victory for conservative Republicans, as voters were captivated by Alan Keyes' straight talk and Steve Forbes' glossy attack ads on Bush. If and when Bauer goes, Forbes and Keyes will try to force the other two to prove that conservatism still means more to the party than merely reclaiming the White House does.
So now Bush has to continue to appeal to the McCain voters, centrists who are attracted to the Arizona maverick's calls for campaign finance reform and using budget surpluses to pay down the national debt. At the same time, Bush is getting his wake-up call from the religious right, in the form of Keyes and, to a lesser extent, Forbes. New Hampshire, which has a smaller ultraconservative contingent than Iowa, should offer a better view of just how much Forbes and Keyes will test W.'s mettle. If he's lucky, the conservatives will fade away before he alienates the compassionates.