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“The major difference between former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPaltry wage gains, rising deficits two key tax reform concerns Trump pressed Sessions to fire FBI agents who sent anti-Trump texts: report DNC sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over alleged election interference MORE and Vice President Joseph Biden is that she runs much better among independent voters, although Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE runs better among that key group than either Democrat,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

"In general Sen. Paul appears to be the better GOP candidate at this point in Iowa. Part of the reason may be the publicity from his recent high-profile visit to the state, but more likely is that he begins with a solid base of support – the folks who voted for his father in the 2008 and 2012 caucuses.”

Iowa is a crucial battleground for presidential candidates, both as an early voting primary state that can decide the fate of a nascent campaign and a crucial battleground that can swing a general election.

The poll also found that Iowa voters aren't particularly familiar with the candidates who will seek to succeed Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinDem Senator open to bid from the left in 2020 Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Trump should require federal contractors to follow the law MORE (D-Iowa) in next year's election. Harkin announced earlier this year his intention to retire.

Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE (D-Iowa), the likely Democratic nominee, is the best known in the field, viewed favorably by 27 percent and unfavorably by 14 percent. By contrast, the percentage of voters reporting that they don't recognize Republican hopefuls, including Matt Whitaker, Joni Ernst, Matt Schultz, David Young and A.J. Spiker, ranges from 81 to 94 percent

“Iowans can look forward to a lot of television ads as all these candidates try to introduce themselves to the folks who have no idea who they are,” said Brown. “Braley is clearly better known than the Republicans, but he too is an unknown to a majority of Iowa voters.”