Mike Huckabee remains the clear GOP frontrunner in Iowa if he decides to run for President again in 2012. If he doesn't run Mitt Romney rises to the top of the polls in the state. And Iowa is one place where Republicans voters are not yet buying into the Donald Trump hype.
27% of Republicans name Huckabee as their first choice compared to 16% for Romney, 14% for Trump, 9% for Newt Gingrich, 8% for Sarah Palin, 6% for Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, and 5% for Tim Pawlenty.
Huckabee's doing pretty well with every segment of the GOP electorate in the state. He edges out Trump 23-20 with voters describing themselves as Tea Partiers and has a wider 28-19 advantage over Romney with Republicans who don't consider themselves part of that movement. He also does pretty well going across the ideological spectrum- he trails Romney 23-21 with those describing themselves as moderates, but has a 27-17 advantage over Romney with voters describing themselves as 'somewhat conservative' that expands to 29-14 with those labeling themselves as 'very conservative.'
Trump doesn't seem to have a lot of appeal to Republicans in the state. He has only a narrowly positive favorability rating with 41% of voters saying they like him to 40% who don't. That 40% unfavorable number is 11 points higher than the next most unpopular of the GOP contenders, Sarah Palin. There is a significant birther presence in Iowa- 48% of Republican voters say they don't think Barack Obama was born in the United States- but Trump isn't even doing all that well with those folks, getting 19% to 25% for Huckabee.
If you take Trump out of the picture Huckabee leads with 30% to 18% for Romney, 12% for Palin and Gingrich, 7% for Pawlenty, and 6% for Bachmann and Paul. That 30/18 spread for Huckabee over Romney is identical to what we found in the state in January, indicating that nothing that's happened over the last three months has had much impact on the state of the race in Iowa beyond the possible Trump candidacy. Four other candidates were included in both the January and April polls- Ron Paul's support is steady at 6% and Newt Gingrich is down a single point from 13% to 12%. If there's a 'winner' in this poll it's Tim Pawlenty who's up to 7% from 4%, suggesting that he's slowly gaining steam and if there's a 'loser' it's Sarah Palin, who's down to 12% from 15%.
If Huckabee ends up sitting this one out Romney will become the favorite in Iowa. In a Huckabee and Trump free field Romney leads with 25% to 15% each for Paul, Palin, and Gingrich, 10% for Bachmann and 9% for Pawlenty. If you take Palin out of the field too Romney stands at 28% to 19% for Gingrich, 16% for Paul, 15% for Bachmann, and 9% for Pawlenty.
There are still signs within the poll of a tough road ahead for Romney even if some of his most prominent potential rivals do bow out though- only 11% of Iowa Republicans say they'd be willing to vote for someone who supported a bill at the state level mandating that people have health insurance compared to 63% who say that would be a disqualifier. It will be interesting to see if Romney's support can hold up once voters in the state get bombarded with communication about his health care record.
Full results here