Wisconsin Governor Walker leads among Republican conservatives

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
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)
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)
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)
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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.

PROS AND CONS

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:

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Wisconsin Governor Walker leads among Republican conservatives

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (D)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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)

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)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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