The top 4Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
The top 4
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Loras College released their latest poll of the GOP 2016 Iowa Caucus race and we have thus far:

Candidate Support (as first choice)Candidate Support (as first or second choice)
Scott Walker12.6 percentScott Walker20.7 percent
Marco Rubio10.0 percentMarco Rubio19.2 percent
Jeb Bush9.6 percentJeb Bush18.8 percent
Mike Huckabee8.6 percentMike Huckabee14.9 percent
Ted Cruz6.5 percentTed Cruz13.6 percent
Rand Paul6.3 percentRand Paul13.2 percent
Ben Carson6.3 percentBen Carson10.4 percent
Chris Christie5.1 percentChris Christie9.0 percent
Rick Santorum3.5 percentDonald Trump6.4 percent
Donald Trump3.1 percentRick Santorum6.1 percent
Rick Perry2.6 percentRick Perry5.4 percent
Bobby Jindal1.0 percentCarly Fiorina3.4 percent
John Kasich1.0 percentBobby Jindal2.4 percent
Carly Fiorina1.0 percentJohn Kasich1.6 percent
Lindsay Graham0.0 percentLindsay Graham0.0 percent
Undecided22.8 percent

Both Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio saw their support double since January.  Huckabee’s support from their last poll has dropped slightly.  Huckabee led the last Loras College poll reassigning supporters of Mitt Romney by their second choice as he announced he wasn’t running while their poll was being conducted.  Carson’s support has dropped by half and Jeb Bush’s support dropped by five points.  Both Huckabee and Carson have the potential to see a bump however in the next round of polls when they officially launch their presidential campaigns.

Also of interest are the candidates who have the highest numbers of Republicans saying they will not vote for them:  Trump leads that category with 22.2% of Republicans saying he would not be their first or second choice.  20.4% of Republicans said, “no way” to Jeb Bush, and 16.7% said absolutely not to Chris Christie.

This poll also found that social conservatives, no surprise, make up the biggest faction in the Republican Party.  34.4% identified themselves as socially conservative.  28.3% said they were “mainstream Republicans.”  12.4% identified themselves as Libertarian Republicans and 18.3% said they are Tea Party Republicans.

They note, “Amongst the social conservatives, Governor Scott Walker and Former Governor Mike Huckabee received the most support. Amongst the libertarians, Senator Rand Paul and Governor Scott Walker received the most support. Among mainstream Republicans, Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush received the highest marks, while Tea Party Republicans indicated a preference for Governor Scott Walker, with Senator Ted Cruz and neurosurgeon Ben Carson tied for second.”

Let me pick a bone with Loras.  The term “mainstream Republican” is a misnomer.  Many social conservatives would see themselves as mainstream and vice versa.  Many Tea Party Republicans also consider themselves socially conservative.  It would have been more helpful if they said “moderate” rather than mainstream.  It is interesting to note that Walker has most support from all groups except the mainstream group where Rubio and Bush have the most support.  I also find it interesting that Cruz isn’t more competitive among self-identified Libertarian Republicans where Walker is.

I’m also encouraged by only 10.4% of Republicans said winning the White House is a candidate’s “likelihood” of a candidate winning the White House is their top consideration.  52.5% said issues were their top consideration, as it should be.  That’s not to say a candidate’s campaign and political intelligence is not important, but it should never be the main thing.

The primary thing to note here is that under 13 points separates first from last place so there is no clear frontrunner in Iowa.  I consider the Public Policy Poll that shows Walker leading by 10 points an outlier.  Also with just shy of 23% of Iowans being undecided this race is still very much up for grabs.  It’s also extremely early and if 2016 is anything like 2012 the voters are extremely fickle.

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