If the GOP primary were held today, Republicans would be most likely to pull the lever for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, according to the results of a new poll.
A nationwide telephone poll of Republican and Republican-leaning independents conducted by WPA Opinion Research found that while the prospective field remains close Paul and Huckabee are currently leading the pack — tied for first place, each with 13 percent of the vote.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush followed with 11 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz each got nine percent. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (six percent), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (six percent), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (five percent), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (three percent), former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (three percent), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry followed. Nineteen percent said they did not know or refused to answer.
“With a field of quality candidates, it is no surprise that no one has broken away from the pack,” said WPA Opinion Research CEO Chris Wilson. ”The important thing at this point of the race is staying in the conversation, and the fact that Rand Paul, Huckabee, Bush, Christie and Cruz are all managing to do that bodes well for them long term.”
The 801 participants in the March 18-20 survey were also asked which candidates would have the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. In that match Paul again came away on top this time tied with Christie, each receiving 13 percent. They were followed by Bush (12 percent), Sen. Rubio (nine percent), Huckabee (eight percent) and Sen. Cruz (eight percent).
“Christie is clearly not the first choice among GOP voters overall, but when you look at which candidate Republicans believe can beat Hillary Clinton there is evidence that the theory a moderate Republican can beat a liberal Democrat still holds some sway,” Wilson added. ”It’s a shame some Republicans haven’t learned the lessons of nominating moderate candidates like Bob Dole, John McCain or Mitt Romney.”