Well, he does, but not in the way Jeb Bush would hope. In a new poll out this morning from Quinnipiac, Bush wins the highest percentage of caucus participants who say they’ll never vote for him, with his 25% outstripping Chris Christie’s 20%.
Anyway, Scott Walker’s still got a significant lead for support over the rest of the pack, but it’s slipped just a bit from February (via Michael Warren):
Walker is at 21 percent of likely GOP caucus participants, compared to 25 percent in a February 25 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.
In the scramble for second place are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with 13 percent each, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with 12 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee with 11 percent. Physician Ben Carson has 7 percent, with 5 percent for Bush. No other candidate is above 3 percent and 6 percent are undecided.
Bush tops the list at 25 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie with 20 percent, when likely Republican Caucus participants are asked if there is any candidate they would definitely not support.” Paul is next on this negative list with 10 percent.
At this stage, these polls are usually more about name recognition than firm support. Quinnipiac’s unusual question may be a little more insightful, though. It’s easier to convince people to switch their support depending on how the issues emerge and the debate flows, but it’s much more difficult to get someone to change their mind on a “never,” especially in a field with so many other options. Bush probably doesn’t expect to do well in Iowa anyway, but this may be a good indicator that he should concentrate on New Hampshire and South Carolina over the next few months.
Walker’s numbers look good against the broadening field. He has maintained most of his momentum from the Iowa Freedom Summit bounce he got in January, despite the entry of a few more candidates into the race since then. He ties for the lead with Ted Cruz for Tea Party voters (26%), while also leading both the “very conservative” (24%) and “somewhat conservative” (27%) voters, the latter by a wide margin over Marco Rubio (14%). He’s even edging Huckabee among evangelicals, 18/17, with Cruz picking up 16%. Walker has a big lead among men (24/16 over Paul), and edges Rubio among women, 17/16.
There’s plenty of good news for Rubio, though, especially considering his recent entry into the race. He’s leading the second-choice question almost across the board, only losing to Walker and Cruz among Tea Party caucus-goers, and Walker among “very conservative” voters. That’s a major bounce upward from February, when Rubio actually trailed both Bush and Christie and most of the rest of the field on the question.
Walker’s hold on the lead shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, this is his political backyard, and Walker hasn’t made any serious missteps. The emergence of Rubio may seem surprising, but he’s a gifted orator and smart retail politician, which Iowans appreciate. Both men employ a more sunny demeanor on the stump and hit more optimistic themes than some of the other candidates, which will play better in Iowa and perhaps lots of other places as well.
Iowans still haven’t seen everyone, though — even if they seem to think they’ve seen enough of Bush and Christie — and we have a long way to go.