A new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll finds Walker leading a tight group of prospective GOP candidates in Iowa even before Mitt Romney, who announced he wouldn't be in the running and might be a competitor for Walker supporters, dropped out of the race.
As the Register reported:
At 15 percentage points, he leads a big, tightly packed field of potential contenders in a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucusgoers. The caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 1, 2016.
The Wisconsin governor is also the No. 2 most popular choice for likely caucusgoers who want an establishment candidate, and he's the No. 2 for those who want an anti-establishment candidate, the poll shows.
"He's in a sweet spot," pollster J. Ann Selzer said. "People who don't want an ultra-conservative think he's OK. People who don't want a moderate think he's OK."
Just one point behind is Rand Paul, a U.S. senator from Kentucky and the son of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, a hero to dissidents who want to shake up government. Paul draws support from the same anti-establishment well.
In the last major poll of Iowa, the Townhall/Gravis poll, the newly-dropped-out Romney led, trailed next by Jeb Bush. This largely confirms that at this point, it's mostly a name-recognition race. Still, if Walker can become one of the big-name potential candidates sooner rather than later, the momentum may prove powerful enough to lead him to the top of the GOP ticket.