Hillary Clinton continues to have a dominant lead in Iowa Democrats’ preferences for their 2016 presidential nominee almost three years before actual candidates will begin chowing down on cobs of corn. The straw poll on the Republican side is much closer, with three candidates locked at the top and two others in double digits.
Clinton tops Vice President Joe Biden 60-18, with no one else even approaching 5%. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren each have 3%, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner are at 1%, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick register almost no support. 14% favor someone else or are not sure.
The victors of the two most recent Republican caucuses, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, are tied at 17%, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie right on their tails at 16%, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 11%, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 10%, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 8%, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan at 6%, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin each at 4%, with only 8% not behind a candidate.
If Clinton did not run, Biden would lead Cuomo 36-14, with Warren at 8% and the others still in the low single digits. Without Biden, Cuomo leads Warren 20-11.
The GOP contenders are all pretty well-known and well-liked, but beyond Clinton and Biden, there are few recognizable names on the left side of the aisle. The least-known Republican is Walker, of whom 38% surprisingly have no opinion, but 55% of Democrats cannot say how they feel about Cuomo, 60% of Warren, and 80-90% of the others. Then again, few had yet heard of a certain state senator from Illinois at this point in 2004.
Hillary would be a field clearer of the sort you don't usually see unless there is an incumbent president or vice president running, and that is particularly true on the Democratic side. But absent her, the race will be up for grabs by any number of candidates who will all start out with little name ID. Biden's advantage now may not be as strong if he does actually choose to run.
The GOP field, on the other hand, will almost certainly be stocked with rising stars who took a pass on Obama, and it will be wide open regardless of the entrants to the race. That would be an unusual development for a party that typically crowns the guy who is seen as the next in line. This time, several candidates could have a claim to that mantle unless Romney surprisingly picks one of these options as his running mate. Of course, this is all contingent upon Romney not winning in November.
Full results here