Iowa poll: Scott Walker leads GOP field

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top choice for Iowa GOP voters ahead of the 2016 caucuses in the state according to a new poll. But Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election How low is the bar for presidential candidates, anyway? MORE (Ky.) is right behind.

Walker leads the field with 15 percent of voters, according to the poll from the Des Moines Register. His stock has been rising in conservative circles, especially in the Hawkeye State, after a strong showing at the Iowa Freedom Summit last week.

Paul is nipping at Walker’s heels with 14 percent support. Iowa Republicans received the Paul family brand of libertarianism well in 2012, when Rand Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), ran for president. The elder Paul initially came in third, and his campaign went on to secure the majority of the state’s delegates unbound by those results.

2012 Republican Party nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney secured 13 percent backing in the poll, but he announced on Friday that he won’t be running in 2016. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush round out the top six GOP candidates, with 10, nine, and eight percent support respectively.

After that, support falls off. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) come next at five and four percent respectively. And a mass of Republican contenders, including Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (Texas), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and real estate magnate Donald Trump round out the group, with the lowest amount of support measured.

The Iowa caucuses are vital because they are the first contest in the presidential nominating process. But there’s still a year left to go, and anything can happen. 

Just months before the 2012 Iowa caucuses, former Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) won among Republicans in the Ames straw poll, a popular pre-caucus poll. She won five percent of the popular vote and zero delegates in the actual caucuses, prompting her to drop out of the race.