Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may be the most popular Republican presidential hopeful nationwide, but he trails his rivals badly in the critical state of Iowa, according to a new poll released Wednesday.
Only 5% of likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers told Quinnipiac University pollsters that they planned to vote for Bush, placing him No. 7 in the field of declared or potential 2016 candidates.
Even worse for Bush: He may not have as much room to grow over the next year as other candidates do. One-quarter of Republicans said they definitely could not support Bush, the lowest ceiling of support of any candidate in the Hawkeye State, and 45% said Bush was “not conservative enough.”
The top Republican in Iowa is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who garnered support from 21% of those surveyed. Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are tightly packed for second place, each earned between 13% and 11% support. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who unveiled his campaign on Monday, tallied 7% of the vote.
The candidate with the most room to grow appears to be Rubio, who 69% of Iowa Republicans said they viewed favorably, the best rating in the field. Rubio has rocketed from the back of the field to the front ever since officially launching his campaign in Miami last month. In February, just 4% of those polled by Quinnipiac said they would support him.
Walker, who has not yet officially launched his campaign, also continues to have staying power among Iowa Republicans. About 62% of caucus-goers said the governor from the neighboring state was “about right” on the issues, and 59% said they viewed him favorably, compared to 11% who viewed him unfavorably.
“Walker scores very highly on a variety of matrixes – honesty, leadership, caring about the needs of average folks and his favorability among caucus-goers,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll. “For national unknowns like Walker and Rubio, a fast start in Iowa may be critical to their chances of overall success.”
Quinnipiac surveyed likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers between April 25 to May 4, yielding a margin of error of pus or minus 3.8 percentage points.