I know that my interest in the 2016 race is premature and ridiculous, but I'm going to write about this new Des Moines Register poll because it suggests, especially on the Republican side, that Iowa voters aren't docilely following the lead of the insider media:
Iowa Republicans are wowed by Paul Ryan, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.Iowa voters are apparently not obsessed with the post-2012 media flavors-of-the-month, Chris Christie and Ted Cruz. You think maybe they're just not following this stuff as obsessively as politics junkies are? It would be nice to think that all the buzz-creating and groundwork-laying Cruz and Christie and the other lesser-known wannabes are doing is for naught, though it matters because the piquing of insiders' and donors' interest builds war chests and organizations, and eventually catches ordinary folks up. But for now, Iowans aren't all that interested.
Mitt Romney's 2012 running mate is wildly popular here with a 73 percent favorability rating....
Two former winners of the Republican caucuses have the second and third highest favorability ratings among voting-age GOP'ers -- 66 percent for Mike Huckabee, 58 percent for Rick Santorum -- among 10 buzzed-about Republicans tested in this poll.
... Texas Gov. Rick Perry ranks fourth among Iowa Republicans with a 55 percent favorability rating.
Tied for fifth most popular are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who are viewed favorably by 51 percent of Republicans. But when it comes to negative feelings, Christie's numbers are the worst of the potential GOP hopefuls -- 30 percent of Iowa Republicans don't like him.
Fewer than half of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. The three ranked lowest on their party's popularity scale, tied for 46 percent, mostly because at least a third of Iowa GOP'ers don't know enough about them to form an opinion....
They're also not buying Scott Walker as a force to be reckoned with. The notion that Walker is a potential A-lister has always seemed like a media creation, backed up by the hopes and dreams of the Koch brothers and their pals, and maybe this suggests that real people are impervious to that hype.
Real Iowans are buying Paul Ryan's Boy Scout act, and after that they like three God-botherers (yes, they still like Rick Perry). Maybe they see Ryan as another Jesus-y figure -- he has sold himself as a devout Catholic, probably more in heartland campaign appearances than in conversations with Ezra Klein, so that could be a big part of his rep in Iowa. (Chris Christie and Ted Cruz, take note: if you want to win in Iowa, talk a lot about Jesus.)
And if you're wondering how Ryan's budget deal affects all this, a separate Register story on the GOP results notes that the poll was conducted before the budget deal was announced. We're told that follow-up interviews suggested no negative fallout:
Several GOP poll respondents said in interviews last week that although they don’t like the budget plan, it doesn't tarnish their opinion of Ryan, essentially because at the end of the day they believe he's a true conservative.Um ... OK. Or maybe they just don't feel like telling a reporter, "Yeah, I told you Ryan was the best of the bunch, and now I feel like a chump."
And over on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has an extremely high 89% favorable rating. Joe Biden's favorable rating is 71%. The only other Democrats polled are former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer (16% favorable, 14% unfavorable) and Maryland governor Martin O'Malley (18% favorable, 13% unfavorable).
Dave Weigel snarks off and Glenn Greenwald declares the coronation premature:
@daveweigel I wonder what it was in 2006 when people were scoffing at the prospect of an Obama challenge.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 15, 2013
Well, Glenn, in one '06 CBS poll, John Edwards actually led Hillary Clinton. I haven't seen any poll in which Biden beats Clinton, or comes close. (In fact, Clinton leads Biden in Iowa by anywhere from 42 to 60 points.) By contrast, as Weigel has pointed out elsewhere, Hillary led most Iowa polls in the run-up to the 2008 caucuses, but not by more than 11 in any legitimate poll.
There could be a compelling challenger to Hillary Clinton -- but it's not going to be Joe Biden. And Warren swears she's not running. So there's no contest now unless something changes significantly.