Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is surging, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is an also-ran and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dominating in a new poll of Iowans likely to vote in the nation’s first presidential nominating contest.
The Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, taken Monday through Thursday, shows Walker leading a wide-open Republican race with 15 percent, up from just 4 percent in the same poll in October. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was at 14 percent and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, stood at 10 percent.
Bush trailed with 8 percent and increasingly is viewed negatively by likely Republican caucus-goers. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in even worse shape, with support from just 4 percent. More troubling for Christie: He’s viewed unfavorably by 54 percent, among the highest negative ratings in the potential field. At 9 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson pulls more support than either Bush or Christie.
On the Democratic side, the race among potential candidates isn’t competitive. Clinton was the first choice of 56 percent. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has repeatedly saidshe isn’t running, stands second at 16 percent. Vice President Joe Biden had only about half as much support as Warren, with 9 percent.
The poll was taken before Mitt Romney’s Friday announcement that he wouldn’t make a third White House bid. He received the backing of 13 percent of likely Republican caucus participants, ranking third. When his supporters are re-allocated to their second choice, Walker’s backing grows to 16 percent, followed by 15 percent for Paul, 13 percent for Huckabee, and 10 percent for Carson. Removing Romney from his third-place spot had no effect on the ranking order of the other top potential candidates and offered the biggest boost to Huckabee. Bush’s overall number inched up just one point, to 9 percent.
Walker’s bounce came on the strength of his speech last weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a gathering of more than 1,200 social conservatives in Des Moines. The two-term governor, often criticized as a dull speaker, captivated the crowd with a vivid account of threats to his family four years ago during his fight with organized labor, and his efforts to push tax cuts and anti-abortion policies.
The survey was taken just as Walker was basking in the positive coverage of that speech, and as he announced the formation of a committee to help him explore a potential presidential bid. Whether he can continue to grow in popularity on the national stage and as he receives more scrutiny remains unknown.