While primary-season voting is more than two years away, pollsters are testing potential Republican and Democratic candidates and Hillary Clinton has an early lead in Iowa, the state that traditionally hosts the first nomination contests.
In head-to-head match-ups, the former first lady, Democratic senator from New York and U.S. secretary of state has a bigger lead over Rubio, 41, than she does over Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who has said he may make a 2016 presidential bid. Paul, 50, appears to be a stronger Republican candidate in Iowa now than Rubio, said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“Part of the reason may be the publicity from his recent high-profile visit to the state, but more likely is that he begins with a solid base of support -- the folks who voted for his father in the 2008 and 2012 caucuses,” Brown said of Paul.
Clinton, 65, ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2008 and has said she doesn’t plan a second bid. She also hasn’t ruled it out.
She led Rubio 48 percent to 37 percent in a survey of Iowa voters released today by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. She was ahead of Paul 46 percent to 42 percent. The May 15-21 telephone poll of 1,411 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
Former U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas, Paul’s father, ran for president three times and finished third in the Iowa caucuses in 2012. Rand Paul appeared in the state earlier this month to speak at an Iowa Republican Party fundraising dinner, boosting speculation that he may make a White House run.
Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2016 Democratic candidate, got 39 percent to Rubio’s 40 percent and trailed Paul 39 percent to 44 percent, the poll showed.
“The major difference between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joseph Biden is that she runs much better among independent voters, although Senator Rand Paul runs better among that key group than either Democrat,” Brown said.
In a hypothetical Clinton-Paul race, the poll showed Democrats backing her 89 percent to 4 percent, while he led 82 percent to 9 percent among Republicans and 44 percent to 38 percent among independent voters. Clinton won women 53 percent to 34 percent for Paul. Among men, 49 percent supported Paul to 39 percent for Clinton.
Iowa independent voters backed Paul over Biden 45 percent to 29 percent, as the vice president took Democrats 80 percent to 7 percent and lost Republicans 84 percent to 6 percent.
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