Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is holding a strong lead among likely Iowa Republican Caucus participants, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll
, which shows him with 25 percent support among voters, a number about twice as high as his nearest rivals.
Walker's strong showing came in part because of the "very conservative" voters who made up 45 percent of those surveyed for the poll, which was released on Wednesday, and the tea party supporters who made up 32 percent. Walker netted 33 percent of the tea party participants' votes.
The remainder of the candidates were very closely matched, with 13 percent for Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky; 11 percent each for retired physician Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; and 10 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Other candidates on the poll, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal all gathered 5 percent or less of the voters' first-choice picks, the survey revealed, with 9 percent of the participants remaining undecided.
The poll involved 623 likely Iowa caucus-goers, and carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.
"Walker is taking the Republican political world by storm," said the Quinnipiac University poll's assistant director, Peter Brown. "He’s gone from being unknown outside Wisconsin to the hot candidate, poised to become the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.
"Front-runner status would make it easier for Gov. Walker to raise money and recruit top talent for his staff, but it also puts a target on his back."
And even if Walker does take the Iowa caucuses, that does not mean he's a sure win for the GOP nomination, Brown pointed out, as "it’s worth remembering that former Sen. Rick Santorum and former Gov. Mike Huckabee won the last two caucuses and neither came close to the nomination."
Walker also got 13 percent of the voters' second-choice picks, with Bush netting 11 percent, and Perry and Paul each getting 9 percent, the poll showed.
Overall, combining the first and second choices, Walker came out on top with 37 percent, with 21 percent for Paul, 20 percent for Bush, 19 percent for Carson and 18 percent for Huckabee.
Walker also ranked highly when it came to favorable votes, said Brown.
"Perhaps most impressive about Walker’s numbers is that 57 percent view him favorably to only 7 percent who view him unfavorably — a heck of a first impression," he said.
Christie scored the lowest favorability rating, with 30 percent viewing him favorably and 54 percent having an unfavorable opinion of him. The remainder of the favorability ratings were:
Bush, 41-40 percent (favorable-unfavorable); Carson, 51-5 percent; Cruz, 46-19 percent; Huckabee, 63-24 percent; Jindal, 41-9 percent; Kasich, 17-6 percent, although 77 percent of the voters did not know enough about him to form an opinion; Paul, 58-22 percent; Rubio, 48-15 percent; and Santorum, 54-23 percent.
Men were slightly more likely than women to favor Walker, who got 26 percent of the male vote and 22 percent of women. Moderate or more liberal voters were more likely to go for Paul, with 21 percent, and Bush, with 17 percent.
The likely caucus participants also tended to pick a candidate who had been a governor or administrator, by a 64-21 percent margin, over a senator or representative.
Walker's lack of a college degree
did not affect his standing in the poll. Just 8 percent of the participants said they less likely to vote for him because he doesn't have a degree, but 82 percent said it made no difference.
Bush's family connections also did not overly affect his standing with the participants, with 25 percent saying they made it less likely they'd choose Bush, versus 63 percent saying they made no difference.
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