Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post:
Witness this new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll of 2016 caucuses. The big takeaway Sunday was that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken the lead (a statistically insignificant one, albeit). More specifically, the big takeaway was that the erstwhile front-runners -- Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush -- don't lead. (The survey was conducted before Romney announced Friday that he won't run.)
The reason: The Iowa caucuses just aren't friendly to establishment Republicans.
We noted Friday that Romney's unfavorable rating among likely caucus-goers was 40 percent -- a very high number, given that these are members of Romney's own party.
Well, he's not the only one. While Romney's favorable/unfavorable split is 57/40, Bush's is even worse: 46/43. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's image is downright bad: 36 percent favorable vs. 54 percent unfavorable. Again, this is among Republicans.
Other, less establishment-oriented Republicans don't have this problem. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) is at 64/25. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is at 66/28. Walker is an unparalleled 60/12. None of the Democrats have this problem, either; Hillary Rodham Clinton is at 84/15, Vice President Biden is at 78/20, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) is at 58/11.
This is precisely why the caucuses picked Huckabee in 2008 and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) in 2012. It's why Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) didn't compete in 2008 and why Romney almost didn't in 2012.