Posted on December 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM
Tuesday, Dec 17 at 10:40 AM
AUSTIN -- Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have both made well-publicized trips to Iowa this year, prompting 2016 speculation in the home of the nation's first presidential caucuses despite neither candidate committing to a presidential run.
"I think second chances are what America's always been about," Perry said in an interview on ABC's This Week during a November trip to the Hawkeye State.
Cruz deflected questions concerning his rumored presidential ambitions in an interview with ABC'S Jonathan Karl in Iowa in July. Cruz responded instead, "We are having a national debate about which direction the country should go."
A new Iowa Poll released this weekend by the Des Moines Register shows adult Republicans ranked Perry fourth most favorably among the potential 2016 GOP field. Former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) led the survey with 73 percent rating him either very or mostly favorable.
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee came in second with a 66 percent favorable rating, followed by 2012 caucus winner Rick Santorum with 58 percent favorability and Perry with 55 percent. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) tied for fifth with 51 percent favorability and the highest unfavorable rating among the GOP field at 30 percent.
Perry finished fifth in the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2012 on the heels of a series of lackluster debates. After initially vowing to return to Texas to evaluate his campaign, Perry emerged the next day to announce plans to bypass the New Hampshire primary and focus his campaign on South Carolina.
"It was a pretty loosey-goosey process," Perry told reporters the day after the caucuses. "You had a lot of people who were there that admitted they were Democrats voting in the caucuses last night."
Returning to Iowa this November for the first time since the 2012 elections, Perry poked fun at his own infamous "oops" debate moment while speaking at a dinner for the Polk County Republican Party.
"Our leaders have forgotten how to govern," Perry said. "And believe me, I know a few things about forgetting."
The same poll shows Perry viewed either very or mostly unfavorable by 19 percent of Iowa Republicans, with 26 percent "not sure" how they feel. St. Edward's political science Professor Brian W. Smith says for a candidate possibly looking for a second chance with voters, the numbers could be interpreted as an encouraging sign.
"What he can say is I'm not dead in the water," said Smith. While likely benefiting from name recognition earned through his previous campaign, Smith cautions that favorability ratings should be taken only for what they are.
"People still have a favorable opinion of him," said Smith. "But that doesn't necessarily mean on election day they would vote for him or even support him in the Iowa caucus."
Despite visiting Iowa three times already this year, Cruz appears to remain an unknown quantity among Republican voters. Tied for sixth with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Cruz was rated very or mostly favorable by 46 percent of Iowa Republicans. Cruz was rated very or mostly unfavorable by 17 percent, with 37 percent responded "not sure."
"There's a lot of people who aren't sure about him, and for Ted Cruz that's both an advantage and a disadvantage in a sense that he can actually increase that [favorability]," explained Smith. "Or what will end up happening is people say you know what, I'm still not sure on him, and you're not going to win if people don't like you."
"For Ted Cruz, he has a lot more work to do than Governor Perry, but again both of them haven't declared any real official presidential ambitions," said Smith, who concedes the race for 2016 is underway regardless. "Everybody knows that if you start late, like Rick Perry did in 2012, you're not going to win. So we are in the primary season."
Conducted for the Des Moines Register by Selzer & Co. with 650 Iowa adults between December 8 and 11, the margin of error for Republican favorability ratings is 7.3 percent. Among all voters, Christie leads the field among the GOP contenders with a 44 percent favorable rating. Within the same group, Hillary Clinton leads the Democratic field with a 50 percent favorable rating.
Clinton is rated very or mostly favorable by 89 percent of Iowa Democrats, with 71 percent rating Vice President Joe Biden very or mostly favorable. For the full survey results -- CLICK HERE.