Iowa Republicans want their old caucus winner back in 2016

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is Iowa Republicans’ top choice for the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, a new poll found.

The poll released by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling on Thursday found 17 percent of Iowa Republicans want the 2008 caucus winner to be the Republican nominee in 2016. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the second most popular choice, with 14 percent, followed closely by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who received 13 percent.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are tied at 10 percent, and former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan is at 9 percent, though his favorables are the highest of anyone in the field, with 63 percent saying they view him favorably and just 13 percent saying they view him unfavorably. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are tied at seven percent.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the man whom Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called “the future” and “the kind of leadership that we need” after the 2012 election, is a footnote in this poll. He sits at just three percent, down from the 11 percent he received in PPP’s last poll in July.

Eleven percent of voters are undecided.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, seems to have somewhat faded from Iowa Republicans’ memory. He is not on the slate of candidates polled, but his favorability rating is on the lower end, with 44 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of him, 21 percent an unfavorable opinion. Thirty-five percent say they are not sure what their opinion is of the man who won the state’s nomination in 2012.

Huckabee draws much of his support from voters who identify as very conservative, 28 percent of whom say they support him. His main competition for that group of voters is Cruz, who gets 18 percent of the vote, followed by Paul who gets 12 percent. Among somewhat conservative voters, Ryan is the favorite, with 16 percent. Huckabee, Paul and Bush tie at 14 percent, and Walker is at 10 percent. Moderate voters favor Paul (20 percent), and Bush (19 percent). Christie is at 16 percent with moderates.

The poll surveyed 289 Iowa Republican primary voters from Feb. 20 through Feb. 23. The poll has a plus or minus 5.8 percentage point margin of error.

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Alexis Levinson