POLITICS
01/31/2015 07:36 pm ET Updated Feb 01, 2015

Scott Walker Takes Lead In Iowa Poll

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top choice for president in 2016 among Republican voters in Iowa, surging past a crowded field of rivals to take the lead in a Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll of prospective Republican candidates for president.

In the poll, released on Saturday night, Walker was the first choice of 15 percent of respondents in the poll, up from 4 percent when the poll was conducted in October. Walker bested Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who was at 14 percent. Mitt Romney was in third at 13 percent; the poll was taken from Monday to Thursday, before he announced his withdrawal from the race. Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was in fourth with ten percent of voters' support.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee received ten percent, and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson got nine percent.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is viewed as the GOP's establishment choice, was only preferred by eight percent of voters. The results held even more bad news for Bush, receiving a favorability rating of 46 percent, not far from the 43 percent who view him unfavorably.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received five and four percent, respectively. The Republicans falling lower in the poll were Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and businessman Donald Trump.

Walker, who made his name fighting unions, raised his national profile last weekend with a forceful speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a high-profile conservative gathering. The Iowa poll showed Walker's favorability rating has increased 11 percentage points since the October poll, up to 60 percent.

His appeal as a potential candidate has been increasing, as he has sought to win members of both the GOP establishment and its more conservative ranks. Though the evangelical Christian's touts conservative agendas and and rhetoric, his record and temperament could win the Republican establishment, the New York Times' Nate Cohn argued. He recently formed a president exploratory committee, a major sign that he is preparing to run.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton was the top choice for president among Democratic respondents by far, receiving 56 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came in second with 16 percent, despite her insistence she isn't running. Vice President Joe Biden was the first choice for president for 9 percent of respondents.

Iowa polls are of special interest to those following the lead up to 2016, as the state's caucuses are the first contest in the presidential nominating process. While the caucuses are still a year off, Walker's good showing in the Iowa poll was enough to get the political world buzzing on a Saturday.

The poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. of West Des Moines, over a time period of Monday to Thursday. The margin of error was 4.9 percentage points.

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