Paul Ryan Most Popular Among Iowa GOPers, Hillary Leads Among Iowa Democrats


A new Des Moines Register poll shows Paul Ryan as the most popular potential Republican choice among Iowa Republicans, while Hillary Clinton leads among Iowa Democrats:

Iowa Republicans are wowed by Paul Ryan, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.

Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate is wildly popular here with a 73 percent favorability rating, a surprise finding that reveals he’s at the forefront of potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates in the nation’s kickoff voting state.

Two former winners of the Republican caucuses have the second and third highest favorability ratings among voting-age GOP’ers — 66 percent for Mike Huckabee, 58 percent for Rick Santorum — among 10 buzzed-about Republicans tested in this poll.

But their popularity isn’t as striking as the overwhelming affinity Iowa Democrats have for Hillary Clinton, with 89 percent saying they have a positive opinion of her. Just 7 percent of voting-age Democrats have a negative impression the former U.S. secretary of state and U.S. senator from New York.

“Clinton’s score is eye-popping and shows she is viewed more favorably than any Democrat or Republican by a big margin,” said Jeff Link, an Iowa Democratic operative.

But the poll brings to light another reality: Clinton would likely face a firestorm of opposition from Republicans in Iowa if she runs for president again — a majority of Republicans, 59 percent, have a “very unfavorable” view of her, the most negative rating possible. “That’s a monster number,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said. “Were she to be nominated, there would be a resurgence of this ‘we hate Hillary’ faction that has been dormant.”


The poll tested four Democrats considered likely 2016 suspects. It shows Clinton is the dominant figure; just about everyone “knows Joe,” but two virtual unknowns — at least in Iowa — have considerable ground to make up if they are to have a chance here.

Vice President Joe Biden is popular with 71 percent of Iowa Democrats. But about 70 percent have no clue who Brian Schweitzer (a former Montana governor) or Martin O’Malley (Maryland’s governor) are.


Back on the GOP side, just over two years out from the next caucuses, Texas Gov. Rick Perry ranks fourth among Iowa Republicans with a 55 percent favorability rating.

Tied for fifth most popular are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who are viewed favorably by 51 percent of Republicans. But when it comes to negative feelings, Christie’s numbers are the worst of the potential GOP hopefuls — 30 percent of Iowa Republicans don’t like him.

Fewer than half of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The three ranked lowest on their party’s popularity scale, tied for 46 percent, mostly because at least a third of Iowa GOP’ers don’t know enough about them to form an opinion.

Cruz, a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has the highest negatives of the bottom three on the GOP popularity scale.

The usual caveats about early polling apply, of course. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that it is Paul Ryan the deal maker who gets the highest marks from Iowa Republicans, who tend to be rather conservative, rather than a staunch Tea Party candidate like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. Chris Christie’s numbers aren’t entirely surprising, of course, given how he’s perceived by conservatives generally. Still, his numbers are far from disastrous and seem to indicate that he could be competitive in the state if he enters the race and engages in some aggressive campaigning.

The Democratic side, of course, is no surprise at all. Hillary Clinton dominates every poll of the Democratic race whether it’s taken at the national or state level. That was true, of course, of polls taken prior to the start of the 2008 campaign and we know what happened then, particularly in Iowa where Clinton ended up getting surprised by Barack Obama’s upstart campaign in a caucus victory that ultimately propelled Obama to victory. The difference this time, arguably, is both that Clinton’s dominance is far bigger than it was four years ago and that there doesn’t seem to be an Obama-like figure that could challenge her this time around, at least not yet.





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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    I see we have broadened the obsession with polling about elections that are a year in the future to polling about elections that are three years in the future.

    Enough already.

  2. wr says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. Otherwise I might have had to wait months to discover the opinions of a tiny bunch of scared old white men who scream about “takers” and “moochers” while guzzling down as many corn subsidies as they can get.

    Truly now my life is complete.

  3. PJ says:


  4. ernieyeball says:

    Anyone who sees the title of this post should be able to figure out what the content would be.
    The reader could have stopped there.
    But why not keep going and for sure have something else to gripe about.