The top 4
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
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 Walker 12.6 percent Scott Walker 20.7 percent
Marco Rubio 10.0 percent Marco Rubio 19.2 percent
Jeb Bush 9.6 percent Jeb Bush 18.8 percent
Mike Huckabee 8.6 percent Mike Huckabee 14.9 percent
Ted Cruz 6.5 percent Ted Cruz 13.6 percent
Rand Paul 6.3 percent Rand Paul 13.2 percent
Ben Carson 6.3 percent Ben Carson 10.4 percent
Chris Christie 5.1 percent Chris Christie 9.0 percent
Rick Santorum 3.5 percent Donald Trump 6.4 percent
Donald Trump 3.1 percent Rick Santorum 6.1 percent
Rick Perry 2.6 percent Rick Perry 5.4 percent
Bobby Jindal 1.0 percent Carly Fiorina 3.4 percent
John Kasich 1.0 percent Bobby Jindal 2.4 percent
Carly Fiorina 1.0 percent John Kasich 1.6 percent
Lindsay Graham 0.0 percent Lindsay Graham 0.0 percent
Undecided 22.8 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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