Poll: Huckabee leads GOP field in Iowa

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) leads the field of potential 2016 GOP candidates in Iowa, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling first obtained by The Hill.

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Huckabee, who won Iowa's GOP caucuses in 2008, pulls 17 percent support in an unsettled field of nine potential candidates, the latest sign he could be a formidable primary candidate should he choose to run for president.

It's very early to read much into presidential polling, and Huckabee's lead is well within the poll's 5.8 percent margin of error. But he clearly retains some popularity in the important early-voting state: The former governor's approval rating among Republicans is at 63 percent with 19 percent disapproving, according to the automated poll, making him both the best-known and most popular candidate in the potential field.

Huckabee has also led in a number of national polls of potential 2016 GOP White House aspirants.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) comes in second in the poll with 14 percent support, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in third place, pulling 13 percent.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) each have 10 percent support, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is at 9 percent. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) are at 7 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) clocks in at 3 percent, with 11 percent of Republicans undecided.

It's far too early to say how each candidate might fare, and much will depend on who runs — and who doesn't.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who won the caucuses in 2012, was left off of PPP's ballot test because the automated dialing service the pollster uses can only test nine candidates at a time. He has a 44 percent approval rating with Republicans, and his appeal to social conservatives and populist Republicans could eat into Huckabee's support if both run, for instance.

Christie has taken a big hit with Republicans in Iowa, similar to his slide with conservatives nationally following his "bridge-gate" scandal. Christie's approval rating is 38 percent among Republicans, just 3 points better than the 35 percent who disapprove of him. Only Donald Trump, with a 44 percent disapproval rating and a 23 percent approval rating, is less popular with Iowa Republicans of all the theoretical candidates surveyed.

The automated poll 283 Republican primary voters was conducted from Feb. 20-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percent.

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