In July, Quinnipiac released a poll of Iowa Republicans, which showed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) in terrific shape in the GOP’s first nominating contest. Two months later, however, the landscape looks remarkably different.
Quinnipiac released these new results this morning out of the Hawkeye State in the race for the Republican presidential nomination:
1. Donald Trump: 27% (up 17 points from July)
2. Ben Carson: 21% (up 11 points)
3. Ted Cruz: 9% (no change)
4. Jeb Bush: 6% (up two points)
5. Carly Fiorina: 5% (up two points)
5. John Kasich: 5% (up three points)
5. Marco Rubio: 5% (down two points)
8. Mike Huckabee: 4% (down one point)
8. Rand Paul: 4% (down five points)
10. Scott Walker: 3% (down 15 points)
Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in the new report, “The Iowa Republican Caucus looks like a two-man race in which the Washington experience that has traditionally been a major measuring stick that voters have used to choose candidates is now a big negative.”
The same poll asked GOP respondents, “In selecting a presidential nominee for the Republican Party, which is more important to you: a candidate with the best chance to defeat the Democratic candidate or a candidate who comes closest to your views on issues?”
By a two-to-one margin (65% to 31%), Iowa Republicans were more concerned about a like-minded candidate, not an electable candidate.
Obviously, there’s quite a bit of time remaining – 143 days until the caucuses, to be exact – and the race will likely see some shakeups between now and the new year.
But the striking thing about this Quinnipiac poll isn’t the candidate in first place; it’s the candidate in 10th place.
Iowa was supposed to be Scott Walker’s strongest state, at least among the early nominating contests. For much of the spring and early summer, the Wisconsin governor led in nearly all Iowa polling, including Quinnipiac’s surveys.
But today’s poll shows him dropping to 10th place, down a whopping 15 points since July. We might expect a precipitous fall like this one in the wake of a scandal or humiliating revelations, but in this case, Walker can’t blame anything but his own weaknesses as a candidate.
What’s more, though Walker backers can certainly hope that the Quinnipiac results are an outlier, this isn’t the only recent poll that shows the far-right governor fading in Iowa – the latest NBC/Marist and Monmouth polls showed similar results.
I think it’s premature to write Walker off. The basic foundation of his candidacy – which had quite a bit of support up until fairly recently – hasn’t changed, and if he addresses his weaknesses, the Wisconsinite may yet recover.
But if officials on Team Walker have a credible comeback plan, they better launch it soon.