A new Zogby Analytics poll of likely Republican primary voters in 2016 shows Rand Paul starting to build a lead over better known - and more establishment - GOP figures. The poll of 282 likely and eligible voters in GOP presidential primaries was conducted June 27-29 and has a margin-of-sampling error of +/-6 percentage points.
In the poll, the junior Senator from Kentucky polls 20%, followed by "Establishment" candidates New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with 13% each. In fourth place is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with 8%, then Florida Senator Marco Rubio 7%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindahl 4%, and New Mexico Governor Suzanna Martinez, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley all with 1% each.
This is the first time a GOP candidate has reached 20% in a crowded field and the first time a Zogby poll has shown someone emerging a bit from the pack. Obviously it is too early to predict outcomes or draw lasting conclusion but here are some points to consider:
- Rand Paul appears to do well among all sub-groups, notably men (29%), voters 30-64 years olds (where he leads), self-identified Republicans, independents, and conservatives (among whom he leads with 19%, 17%, and 20% respectively), and moderates (23%). He also leads among Protestants and Born Again/Evangelical GOP voters (21% and 20% respectively).
- Unlike typical polls at this early stage, Paul's lead is not attributable to simple name recognition. He is decidedly less known than Bush, Christie, and Rubio. He may be drawing on his famous father's support from previous runs - perhaps in the same way early polls in the late 1990s showed George W. Bush leading the field - but Rand Paul is emerging as the frontrunner in this race.
- We really don't know who will actually run. Scott Walker's showing at 8% is pretty impressive, but numbers (and passion) like this at least suggest that Rand Paul can put together a coalition that includes Tea Party, moderate, fiscal conservative , and foreign policy non-interventionists to become a finalist at the GOP convention in 2016.
- These numbers also mean that more prominent names are not popular enough, even this early in the process. If Paul has anywhere near the kind of passion and organization his father had, he can build on his frontrunner status by raising money and winning key straw polls - as his father did.
On the Democratic side, the Zogby poll of 612 likely Democratic primary voters shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominating the pack with 52% support. Her closest challengers are Vice President Joe Biden with 8% and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren with 7%. Others posting numbers are Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer with 4%, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb with 3%.
Mrs. Clinton dominates among sub-groups. Her major concern at this point is to not raise expectations so high that she establishes a bar she cannot possibly achieve. This scenario was evident in 1984 when former Vice President Walter Mondale was polling well over 50% in a crowded field. When the Iowa caucuses occurred, he "only" scored 45% of the total vote to Gary Hart's 14% (much better than the pundits and pre-caucus polls) had shown. Hart skyrocketed for a bit until Mondale regained his footing.
Perhaps most telling from the Democratic poll is that Sen. Warren is well behind among self-described liberals.