Walker leads in early Iowa poll

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is capping off more than a week of bad headlines with some good news out of the first-in-the nation caucus state.

Walker is leading a crowded field of potential presidential candidates in Iowa with 25% of likely Republican caucus-goers throwing their support to Walker in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. The Iowa caucus will be the first test for presidential hopefuls and while the last two GOP winners didn't get far in the primary process, the caucus is a crucial test of conservative credentials and can help signal some candidates off the campaign trail.

Libertarian favorite Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky came in second in the poll with 13% of support while former Gov. Mike Huckabee, the 2008 caucus winner, and Tea Party darling Ben Carson closely followed with 11% each.

Walker also topped the list of second picks, with 13% listing Walker as their second choice.

The poll wasn't good news for Jeb Bush, the leading establishment candidate, who only pulled 10% of support from likely caucus-goers.

The former Florida governor did follow Walker with 11% as voters' favored second-choice pick, but Bush's struggles to win over the party's conservative base set up an uphill climb for Bush in Iowa. Nearly half of likely Republican caucus-goers surveyed identified as \"very conservative.\"

The poll was conducted Feb. 16-23, a period of time that included several national headlines for Walker including appearing at an event where former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said Obama doesn't love America, and an interview where Walker wouldn't say if he thought President Barack Obama was a christian. The poll represented 623 likely caucus goers and had a margin-of-error of 3.9 percentage points.

A quarter of likely GOP caucus voters said they would \"definitely not support\" Bush and 40% said they have an unfavorable opinion of the brother and son of two former presidents, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also considered too moderate by many in the party's conservative base, had the highest unfavorable rating -- 54% -- in the crop of potential candidates.

A quarter of likely Iowa caucus-goers also said they would not support Christie.

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