The race is on in Iowa, the country's earliest presidential primary caucus state, where Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis., lead the current political beauty pageant.
Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate in 2012, has a 73 percent favorability rating, topping previous GOP Iowa caucus winners, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 66 percent and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 58 percent, according to a new poll published Sunday by the Des Moines Register.
Other potential GOP candidates did less well with Iowa Republicans, with Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tied with a 51 percent approval rating. Another trio – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) – all fall below 50 percent approval, but have room for growth because one-third of respondents did not know who they were.
On the Democratic side, Clinton is seen as favorable by 89 percent of Democrats, compared to 71 percent for Vice President Joe Biden. But the former secretary of State and senator from New York remains one of the most polarizing political figures, with 59 percent of Republicans saying they have an unfavorable view of Clinton.
"That's a monster number," said J. Ann Selzer, whose polling company conducted the survey, to the Des Moines Register. "Were she to be nominated, there would be a resurgence of this 'we hate Hillary' faction that has been dormant."
Clinton and Ryan both lead in overall popularity across party lines, with 50 percent of all respondents approving of Clinton and 40 percent for Ryan.
The poll surveyed 650 Iowa adults between Dec. 8-11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 7.3 percentage points for Republicans and plus or minus 8 percentage points for Democrats.