Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Parsing the Iowa Poll and Scott Walker's Surge to GOP Front-Runner

This last weekend, I finally had a chance to watch the Scott Walker speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit.  If you haven't seen it, check it out here.  After you do, you'll have no problem seeing why the Wisconsin governor surged to the lead in the Desmoines Register polling for the 2016 GOP caucuses.

This poll was conducted right after the Freedom Summit and ended just before Mitt Romney officially dropped out of the race last Friday.  As such, it provides a few interesting glimpses into where things stand exactly a year out from the kickoff of the primary season.

  • Walker tops the list of candidates at 15% - one point ahead of Rand Paul (14%), but a full 7 points ahead of Jeb Bush (8%).
  • Walker achieved this lead while having 34% of respondents say they were "unsure" of where he stood ideologically.  That was the highest unsure rate of any leading candidate, so he has more room to move.  My guess is his numbers will improve even more as people get to know him.
  • When Romney's votes are reallocated to his poll respondents' second choice candidates, Jeb.Bush only bumps up 1%.  Mike Huckabee actually garners more Romney supports - picking up 3% of Romney's initial 13%.  The fact that Bush received so little of the Romney vote shows a significant weakness among more establishment voters.  It also makes Romney the king maker in this race.  Who he picks to support will be interesting to watch.
So, why would Walker make the best GOP candidate to face Hillary Clinton?
  • He would hit right at the Achilles Heel of the Democrats - white working class men.  The Democrats have been struggling nationally with this demographic and Walker will appeal greatly to them.
  • While not as nationally known (yet) as some of the other candidates, he is known among the activist class, and he boasts a national donor base among that class due to the publicity around his taking on the teacher unions and the subsequent recall vote they launched against him.
  • He has been vetted better than any other Republican candidate.  Walker was the number one  target of the far left nationally during his recall and reelection campaigns.  They have thrown everything possible at him and he survived twice.  No other candidate can boast that type of record.
Again, watch that video of his Freedom Summit speech.  Scott Walker is the one to watch in this crowded GOP field - at least for now.

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