Paul Ryan enjoys reservoir of goodwill among Iowa Republicans

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is viewed more warmly by Iowa Republicans than many of the other possible contenders for the GOP’s presidential nod in 2016, a new Iowa Poll suggested this weekend.

Iowa Republicans who will launch the next presidential election’s nominating cycle view other Republican contenders like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sens. Rand Paul, Ky., and Ted Cruz, Texas, favorably. But no Republican has a bigger reservoir of goodwill than Paul, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee from neighboring Wisconsin.

Seventy-three percent of Iowa Republicans have a somewhat or very favorable impression of Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential nominee from neighboring Wisconsin. The reservoir of goodwill for the House Budget Committee chairman could translate to crucial support in Iowa come 2016, should Ryan decide to make his own bid for the presidency.

The next-most-popular Republicans were the two Republicans to win the past two Iowa caucuses: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (2008) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (2012). They’re seen favorably by 66 and 58 percent of Iowa Republicans, respectively. 

Santorum has continued to stay active on political issues and in conservative media to preserve his 2016 options; Huckabee last week quit a radio show and begun to stoke speculation about his 2016 chances in the media. 

Other Republicans lag behind Paul Ryan, Huckabee and Santorum – at least in relative terms. Most of the other Republicans tested in the poll registered numbers in the mid-40s to mid-50s. 

The poll also contained a possible warning sign for Christie, a widely-acclaimed 2016 contender who might encounter difficulties in the Republican primaries, which are traditionally dominated by conservative activists. Thirty percent of Iowa GOPers have a mostly or very unfavorable opinion of Christie, versus 51 percent who see him mostly or very positively. Still, the numbers reflect a warning sign that the GOP governor’s brand of politics might wear thin in Iowa.

Rand Paul, who’s been to Iowa a number of times already in anticipation of a 2016 run, also wins somewhat mixed remarks, in relative terms. He’s seen favorably by 51 percent of Iowa Republicans, and unfavorably by 23 percent. 

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton remains an overwhelming favorite of Iowa Democrats, 89 percent of whom have a mostly or very positive impression of the former secretary of state. Vice President Joe Biden also fares well: he’s seen favorably by 71 percent of Iowa Democrats, and unfavorably by 18 percent.

The Iowa Poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register from Dec. 8-11. The overall sample has a 3.8 percent margin of error; the subsamples of Iowa Republicans and Iowa Democrats have a larger, unspecified margin of error.