In a Gravis Marketing poll released today Jeb Bush leads fellow GOP rivals among Republican Party Iowa voters while Senator Marco Rubio and former brain surgeon Ben Carson have increased their popularity while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has taken the largest fall. In a telephone survey conducted April 13, former Governor Bush (R-FL) led with 16 percent of voters surveyed with Walker coming in at 13 percent, followed closely by fellow Floridian Rubio at 12 percent. The poll was conducted the same day as Rubio’s announcement of his 2016 Presidential bid.
The biggest gainers were Marco Rubio, who improved five points from his seven percent support in a February poll conducted by Gravis, Jeb Bush with a net six percent jump and Dr. C arson, who received nine percent support an increase of four percentage points from February. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also gained two points from the his four percent support in the previous survey while Mike Huckabee rose a point to eight percent.
Among those seeing their support drop since February, Walker suffered the largest losses, losing 11 percentage points from his strong previous showing. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul dropped a point to 9 percent, while former Pennsylvania Senator and 2012 GOP runner-up Rick Santorum lost four points, leaving him at two percent support. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina remained steady at three percent. Potential candidates Rick Perry and Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) were not included in the polling. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also saw an erosion of four points to leave him at five percent support.
In head-to-head polling against presumptive Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton, Republican Party supporters have reason to be optimistic. Both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio trail the better-known former First Lady by three percentage points, and despite his loss of support among GOP voters, Walker trails Clinton by four points. When asked the same question in February, Clinton led both Bush and Walker by six percentage points, indicating her overall support by Iowans has slipped despite her high-profile recent visit to the state.
Given they announced their Presidential bids only a day apart, the numbers in a prospective Rubio-Clinton match-up are worth closer examination. While Hillary Clinton leads the Junior Senator from Florida 45 percent to 42 percent, key demographics give Marco Rubio’s some encouragement that he can easily bridge this gap. Rubio leads among men by 9 points and Catholics by six. Most interesting for a campaign that will stress a look toward the future and attack the failed policies of the past, Rubio leads Clinton 48 percent to 40 among voters under the age of 50. President Obama capitalized on a large margin of younger voters to capture the Hawkeye state’s six electoral votes in both 2008 and 2012.
While Clinton bests Rubio among women, 50 percent to 38 percent, another telling poll showed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice beating Hillary 43 percent to 40 percent in a mythical match-up. To date Rice has expressed no interest in seeking the Republican Party nomination, but the poll indicates that even women voters are open to a Republican, and Rubio has yet to aggressively court voters in the state.
In a race that has yet to truly begin, these numbers may or may not hold significance as the campaign heats up in earnest in the winter. That said, they should serve as a wake-up call to the Walker camp that they need to actively engage in Iowa or risk seeing a further hemorrhaging of support. It is notable that taken together, the increased level of support enjoyed by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio equals that of Scott Walker’s fall, with Ben Carson’s rise being the wild-card. The Gravis Marketing poll of Iowa voters should also serve as a warning to the Democratic Party that although nationally known, Hillary Clinton can not simply assume she will capture the same level of enthusiasm enjoyed by President Obama, and the state will be highly competitive and runs the risk of becoming a GOP pick-up.
By Paul M Winters
Managing Editor, Dignitas News Service