Wisconsin Governor Walker leads among Republican conservatives

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Scott Walker's Path

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the clear favorite of conservative voters as he readies an expected bid for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Walker has gained little traction among the moderate voters who account for the majority of the party, the poll shows. But his strength on the right gives him a good base of support, analysts said.

"It's never bad to be the most conservative guy in a Republican primary fight - he could win the nomination that way. The question is can he do so in a way that does not alienate moderates?" said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

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Wisconsin Governor Walker leads among Republican conservatives
Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, July 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a town hall meeting, Friday, July 17, 2015, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
WAUKESHA, WI - JULY 13: Workers put up a sign outside of the Waukesha County Expo Center before Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announces that he will seek the Republican nomination for president on July 13, 2015 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Walker is the 15th candidate to formally announce intentions to seek the Republican nomination. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker waves to supporters after announcing that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at the Waukesha County Expo Center, Monday, July 13, 2015, in Waukesha, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 02: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and possible Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak during the event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 02: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and possible Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak during the event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 21: Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during the 2015 Southern Republican Leadership Conference May 21, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. About a dozen possible presidential candidates will join the conference and lobby for supports from Republican voters. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WEST DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (L) and his wife Tonette listen to a speaker at Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart's annual Blue Jean Bash on May 16, 2015 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Several Republican presidential hopefuls are attending events in the state this weekend. Hillary Clinton, who hopes to become the Democrats choice, is expected in Iowa for events on Monday and Tuesday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker walks off stage after speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on February 26, 2015. (Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
CONCORD, NH - MARCH 14: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks during a grassroots training and rally event at Concord High School March 14, 2015 in Concord, New Hampshire. Governor Walker is on a two day trip to New Hampshire as he eyes a run for president. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum January 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Earlier in the week Walker announced the formation of 'Our American Revival', a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker waits backstage before speaking at the Freedom Summit, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 4: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker greets supporters at his election night party November 4, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. Walker defeated Democratic challenger Mary Burke. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the winter meeting of the free market Club for Growth winter economic conference at the Breakers Hotel Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
In this photo taken Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a National Religious Broadcasters meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Walker and fellow potential Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee spoke at the conference. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker shakes hands after speaking at his campaign party, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in West Allis, Wis. Walker defeated Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mary Burke. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015, file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. The fact is, what the polls do show is that most Americans aren’t yet paying enough attention to make the horse race results worth much at all. An Associated Press-GfK poll was conducted at the end of January. It found that two-thirds of Americans were unfamiliar with two Republicans who have attracted lots of attention for their performance in polls this year, Walker and conservative darling Ben Carson. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)
FILE - In a Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 file photo, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker gives a thumbs up as he speaks at his campaign party, in West Allis, Wis. Less than two years ago, party leaders solemnly declared after an exhaustive study that the GOP "must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform." It was critical for the party's survival, they said, to address an issue that was paramount to the nation's surging Hispanic population. But as President Obama issued a sweeping immigration order last week, some of the Republican Party's most prominent governors — likely presidential candidates among them — described immigration reform as little more than an afterthought. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)
In this Sept. 23, 2014 photo is Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker at a campaign stop in Racine, Wis. Walker faces Democratic gubernatorial challenger Mary Burke Nov. 4 election. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the Republican party of Wisconsin State Convention Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker arrives at the 2014 TIME 100 Gala held at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Gov. Scott Walker speaks during a rally for South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who announced her candidacy for a second term at the Bi-Lo Center, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in Greenville, S.C. Supporting Gov. Haley were Perry, Bobby Jindal-La. and Scott Walker-Wis. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)
FILE - In this June 28, 2013 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis. On Friday, July 5, 2013, Walker signed a contentious Republican bill that would require women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of the fetus before the procedure and prohibit doctors from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Opponents have vowed to sue to stop the law. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures as he speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Saturday, March 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Green Packers all time leading receiver, Donald Driver, right, shares a laugh with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker during Drivers retirement ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The governor had proclaimed the day Donald Driver day. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, second from right, walks up to the podium for a test in the Tampa Bay Times Forum at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
RNC chairman Reince Priebus , left, Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., center, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., watch Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speak during a campaign stop at Monterey Mills on Monday, June 18, 2012 in Janesville, Wis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker kisses his wife Tonette at his victory party Tuesday, June 5, 2012, in Waukesha, Wis. Walker defeated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a special recall election. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to employees of Total Administrative Services Corp., on Monday, May 21, 2012, in Madison, Wis. Walker, who faces a recall election in two weeks, is up in the polls and appears to have the momentum in the race. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is surrounded by the news media after speaking to the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. Ever since his fight to pass an anti-union bill last year, Walker has kept up a jet-setting schedule that's more akin to a candidate running for president than governor. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard who are preparing to deploy to Kosovo later this year, on Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, in Milwaukee, Walker said Friday that he didn’t know anything more about an FBI raid on the home of one of his former top aids Wednesday beyond what he has seen reported in the press. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde)
CodePink demonstrators stand behind Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., left, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 14, 2011, prior to Walker testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the problems with balancing state budgets in a tough economy. Sensenbrenner introduced Walker to the committee. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) answers questions from the media after reading to Anna Greenman's third grade class at Hope Christian school Prima in Milwaukee, Thursday, March 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs a bill at a ceremonial event Friday, March 11, 2011, in Madison, Wis. At right is Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks to the media at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. Opponents to the governor's proposal to eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers are in their ninth day of protests at the Capitol. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker acknowledges someone in the crowd as he speaks at an inauguration ceremony in the rotunda of the state Capitol Monday, Jan. 3, 2011, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Governor-elect Scott Walker speaks to reporters outside the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., following meetings on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010 with state budget officials. Walker, a Republican, said he is working with state lawmakers on proposals to stimulate the state’s economy that can be taken up immediately in January. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker give a wink and thumbs us as he declares victory, Tuesday, Sept, 14. 2010, in Milwaukee. Walker will face Democrat Tom Barrett in the Nov. 2 general election. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
In this photo made May 28, 2010, Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker speaks at a Memorial Day service at St. John's Academy in Delafield, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Wisconsin Governor candidates Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker waits before his final debate against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett Friday, Oct. 29, 2010, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Walker and Texas Senator Ted Cruz can each claim about a quarter of the most conservative party members, the poll shows. While ardent conservatives only account for 1 in 10 Republican voters, they are more likely to vote in primary contests and take an active role in politics. He also wins a large share of conservative-leaning voters who are less inclined to see every issue in terms of black and white.

Overall, 11 percent of Republicans say Walker is their pick to be the party's nominee for the November 2016 election, putting him in third place behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Scott Walker Presidential Candidate Profile | InsideGov

Walker supporters said they admired his willingness to take on public-sector labor unions and govern as an uncompromising conservative in a politically competitive state.

"I think he did a commendable job fighting against the unions, I think the unions are just out of control," said poll respondent Don Oliphant, 49, a prison guard from Lewes, Delaware.


Reuters surveyed 2,852 self-identified Republicans over the month of May and asked them about topics like health care and foreign policy as well as which candidate they liked best.

The results provide insight into an electorate that has been sharply divided over issues like immigration and upended by the grass-roots Tea Party movement. The online poll among all Republicans has a credibility interval of 2.1 percent. The credibility interval ranges from 3.2 percent to 7.1 percent for smaller groups broken out by the poll.

Though Walker does best among the most conservative voters, he also does well among those who are open to compromise on some issues. For example, he gets the support of 20 percent of those who have no interest in renewable energy but believe that not all illegal immigrants should be deported, 6 points ahead of any other candidate.

Walker gets the backing of only 7 percent of moderates, ranking below six other Republican candidates.

Wisconsin resident Duane Feustel, 58, said he supported Walker's fight against the unions but didn't like how budget cuts affected his wife's job helping people with disabilities.

"He's done what he's done for Wisconsin - there's pros and cons to it," said Feustel, an unemployed scrap-metal worker who backs Bush at this point in the race.

Walker's path to the nomination, if successful, would mark a shift for a party that in past elections has nominated candidates who draw their support from moderates, like Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008.

Republican strategists said Walker could pick up more support among moderates once he formally enters the race and voters start paying closer attention. But several questioned whether he will hold up to scrutiny, noting that he has already fumbled questions on evolution, religion and foreign policy.

"People are still projecting a lot on Scott Walker," said Craig Robinson, a former political director for the Iowa Republican Party. "He's everyone's favorite - we're not kicking the tires yet."

See all the officially announced candidates for 2016:

All officially announced 2016 Presidential candidates
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Wisconsin Governor Walker leads among Republican conservatives

Business mogul Donald Trump (R)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (D)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson of Maryland (R)

(Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (R)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida (R)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York (D)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (R)

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R)

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former CEO, Businesswoman Carly Fiorina of California (R)

(Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (R)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Former New York Governor George Pataki (R)

(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (R)

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


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