Sept. 28 1999 11:49 PM

At the beginning of August, Elizabeth Dole was trading at a measly two cents a share. Her third-place finish at the Ames straw poll in Iowa on Aug. 14 triggered heavy buying, which tripled her share price to six cents. But Dole squandered her momentum, and this Sunday and Monday a huge sell-off sent her stock plummeting to nearly a penny. Meanwhile, however, investors didn't bid up the value of Bush and Forbes. What happened? By deduction, the likely answer is that John McCain's campaign kickoff on Monday convinced many investors that he has supplanted Dole as the alternative to Bush and Forbes. The managers of the Iowa market haven't added McCain to their trading board yet. If his prospects keep rising, expect an IPO.