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Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum Lead in Iowa 2016 Presidential Poll; Evangelicals Favor Huckabee, Ryan

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By Tyler O'Neil , CP Reporter
December 18, 2013|2:30 pm
Paul Ryan (Photo: American Conservative Union/Eric Draper)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) speaking at the CPAC conference, National Harbor, MD., March 15, 2013.

An early 2016 presidential poll in Iowa found former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan the most favorable, followed by former Iowa Caucus winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Among born-again Christians, Ryan came in closely behind Huckabee. Christian and conservative leaders explained why, but minimized the importance of the poll for long-term results.

"As an Iowan pastor, I can assure you that both [Paul Ryan and Mike Huckabee] will have an uphill battle," Cary Gordon, executive pastor at Cornerstone World Outreach in Sioux City, told The Christian Post on Tuesday. Gordon minimized Ryan's 73 percent overall favorability rating among Republicans as premature, arguing that Ryan "will under no circumstances be the next president of the United States and will probably compete with Chris Christie for a dead last finish in the Iowa Caucuses."

Among Republicans, Ryan came in first with a 73 percent favorability rating. Huckabee, Santorum, and Texas Governor Rich Perry followed, with 66 percent, 58 percent, and 55 percent, respectively. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tied with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for fifth, with 51 percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio tied with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 46 percent.

Among Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came first, with 89 percent. Vice President Joe Biden followed with 71 percent. Virginia Governor Martin O'Malley trailed at 18 percent, along with former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer at 16 percent.

"I don't put much stock in polls this far out, but I can see it being a guide for potential candidates as they test the waters for a run," Shane Vander Hart, founder and editor-in-chief of the Des Moines blog 'Caffeinated Thoughts,' told CP in an email statement. He explained that both Ryan and Huckabee enjoy wide name recognition, but may not stand up to the scrutiny of caucus-goers in 2015.

Vander Hart explained the reasons behind Ryan's and Huckabee's popularity. "Ryan polls well among evangelicals because he is known to be strong on life and marriage, while Huckabee is also popular with pro-life activists," the blogger wrote. Nevertheless, he anticipated that both will face set-backs for recent decisions – Ryan on the current budget deal, and Huckabee for his support of the Common Core Standards.

Gordon also mentioned these issues as weaknesses for Ryan and Huckabee. Ryan will also face criticism, the pastor predicted, for his association with Mitt Romney, who ran pro-abortion television commercials on the East Coast while assuring Midwestern audiences that he was originally pro-life. Gordon also attacked Ryan for doing nothing to address the "enormous chunk of our population" who are about to qualify for federal assistance programs. "He won't do well after a good solid year of vetting in Iowa."

When asked whom he thinks would perform well, Gordon said "Cruz and Santorum." While the Des Moines Register poll put former presidential candidate Rick Santorum in third place with 58 percent favorability, it ranked Texas Senator Ted Cruz ninth, with only 46 percent favorability. Gordon did not endorse either candidate, explaining, "I'm vetting all, supporting none, at this stage."

Connie Mackey, president of the Family Research Council's political action committee, also took little long-term stock in the poll, saying "things change so quickly that it's only good for the week or two until they take another one." A veteran of many Iowa campaigns, Mackey agreed that Paul Ryan's new budget deal would likely decrease his favorability in this poll.

Mackey also analyzed the positions of other candidates. "The perception by the mainstream Republican Party that [New Jersey Governor] Chris Christie will be all things to all people is a false premise that shows up in these polls," she remarked, noting Christie's fifth-place finish with 51 percent. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, another 2016 favorite who tied Christie in the poll, has "got a long way to go" because he is not from the Midwest, the strategist explained.

Mackey did not trust the poll results when it came to Ted Cruz, however. While not a Midwesterner, the Texas Senator's work on Obamacare is notable in Iowa, and he would give Paul Ryan a "very good run for his money," the strategist predicted.

"There's a long time before any of these polls actually show anything, but you always want to be ahead in them," Mackey argued. "I think it speaks well for Paul Ryan at this point."

Tony Katz, host of the daily radio show "Tony Katz Tonight," dismissed the poll as utterly unimportant, and a distraction from other stories. "A poll in 2013 is as meaningless as the day is long, it helps somebody fill column inches who doesn't want to write about the horror of Obamacare, and it's unnecessary," Katz said. "There are still sex scandals to break!"

Des Moines Register and Tribune, Co.
An early 2016 Presidential poll run by the Des Moines Register

Contact: tyler.oneil@christianpost.com, @tyler2oneil (Twitter)
 

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