Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan lead the polls in Iowa

The critical early state of Iowa in the 2016 elections will play a vital role in deciding who the next president is.

If current opinion holds up we could be looking at Irish American Paul Ryan as a very strong contender for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is a country mile ahead on the Democratic side with Joe Biden her only serious challenger.

Congressman Ryan, the candidate with Kilkenny roots, is leading the pack for his party’s nomination in Iowa for 2016. A new poll shows that the former VP candidate on the Romney ticket has a 73 percent favorability rating with Iowa Republicans reports USA Today.

The Des Moines Register Iowa Poll, conducted on Dec 8-11, of 650 Iowa adults 18 and over, also shows that Iowa Democrats have a strong affinity for Hillary Rodham Clinton, with 89 percent saying they have a positive opinion about the former US secretary of state.

"Clinton's score is eye-popping and shows she is viewed more favorably than any Democrat or Republican by a big margin," said Jeff Link, a Democratic political operative from Des Moines.

However, the poll also shows that 77 percent of Iowa Republicans say they have a "very unfavorable" or "mostly unfavorable" opinion of her, indicating that Clinton would likely face tough opposition from Republicans if she runs for president again.

A majority of Republicans, at 59 percent, gave Clinton the most negative rating.

"That's a monster number," pollster J. Ann Selzer said. "Were she to be nominated, there would be a resurgence of this 'We hate Hillary' faction that has been dormant."

The poll also shows that Vice President Joe Biden is popular with 71 percent of Iowa Democrats.

Two former winners of the GOP caucuses in Iowa have the second and third highest favorability ratings with Iowa Republicans with Mike Huckabee at 66 percent and Rick Santorum at 58 percent.

Selzer & Co. of Des Moines conducted the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 7.3 percentage points for Republicans and plus or minus 8.0 percentage points for Democrats.