Iowa Republicans prefer candidate who could beat Obama over ideologically similar candidate

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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A majority of Iowa Republican caucus goers would vote for a candidate who could beat President Obama over someone who held views that were close to their own, according to a poll conducted for The Iowa Republican and released Tuesday.

The survey of 500 likely caucus goers, conducted by Jan van Lohuizen, who served as George W. Bush’s primary pollster, found that 61 percent would prefer to vote for a candidate who has a chance to oust the sitting president, compared to 32 percent who would rather vote for someone closer to their own views.

That sentiment, according to the poll, is even more pronounced among fiscal conservatives than among social conservatives, though 53 percent of those who identified social issues as one of the top things influencing their vote, also said that it was more important to beat Obama. Forty percent said they would vote for a candidate who holds views similar to their own.

This could benefit Mitt Romney, if he can maintain his perceived frontrunner status. He currently leads in the national polls, and has a narrow lead over Michele Bachmann in the latest Des Moines Register poll, and he has reportedly raised between $15 and $20 million in the second quarter.

Respondents were asked whether, given a choice, they would support a candidate who held similar views but had not spent a lot of time campaigning in Iowa, or a candidate who held views not so close to their own but who had campaigned often in Iowa. Seventy-nine percents said they would support a candidate who held their views but had not been to the state so often.

As The Iowa Republican points out, this could also benefit Romney, who has said he will not spend substantial time in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, but who continues to lead in polls of caucus goers. (Huckabee’s daughter joins Pawlenty campaign)

The poll was commissioned by The Iowa Republican, and conducted between June 26 and June 30. It surveyed 500 likely caucus goers in telephone interviews. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent.