Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has received buzz as a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but two polls released last week show he has a lot of work to do with the voters in two key states.
Walker was the top choice of 6 percent of New Hampshire Republicans and 5 percent of Iowa Republicans in a pair of NBC News/Marist polls. Those were, respectively, the seventh- and ninth-highest totals among 10 potential Republican contenders, though the field remains wide open.
Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan had 11 percent support in Iowa, one point behind top picks former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. In New Hampshire, Ryan polled 7 percent, landing him in the middle of the pack, which was led by Paul with 14 percent support.
One in five potential GOP voters in both polls were undecided.
Among Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the hands-down favorite for nominee over Vice President Joe Biden.
Both polls asked voters whom they would pick in a hypothetical matchup between Clinton and six of the 10 Republicans: Walker, Bush, Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
The poll did not single out Ryan, the vice presidential nominee in 2012. NBC News senior political editor Mark Murray said in order to limit the number of questions, only one potential candidate from Wisconsin was selected, and Walker has positioned himself more for a run than Ryan in recent months.
In both states Walker fared the worst against Clinton among those six Republicans. Clinton was favored against Walker 50-37 in Iowa and 48-39 in New Hampshire.
Of the six Republicans, Walker had the highest percentage of registered voters who said they had never heard of him, at 24 percent in New Hampshire and 27 percent in Iowa.
The states have historically held the earliest nominating contests in presidential election years.
Very, very early
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, who has included Walker among the top tier of presidential prospects, didn’t put much meaning to the poll more than two years before the election.
“Chris Christie has received literally hundreds of hours of national coverage on all networks both positive and negative for years. Jeb Bush is son of a president and brother of another president,” Sabato said. “Even if you hear incidentally, ‘The Governor of Wisconsin said … ’ You tune out. [If you live in Iowa] you care about what the governor of Iowa says.”
The New Hampshire poll asked 1,542 adults between July 7 and 13 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The Iowa poll asked 1,772 adults between July 7 and 13 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.