In a hypothetical matchup between Kentucky senator Rand Paul and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the Republican senator is besting Clinton in three states: Colorado, Kentucky, and New Hampshire.
The Kentucky poll, sponsored jointly by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and two local television stations, has Paul leading Clinton by four points, 48 to 44 percent. That’s a slim margin of victory for Paul in his home state, one that Mitt Romney carried with over 60 percent of the vote. But Obama didn’t perform strongly in the South and his approval ratings there remain abysmal. The poll speaks to the fact that Clinton, like her husband, will be much more competitive in the region if she runs.
University of Kentucky political scientist Stephen Voss told the Herald-Leader, “You cannot read too much into poll results about a contest that is not happening and that is still so purely hypothetical that voters have not actually made informed decisions yet. But the strong numbers for Clinton, even against a favorite son of the state, looks like a good sign for her in general. After years in the Obama administration, she has not shed the popularity in Kentucky that allowed her to perform so strongly in our Democratic primary.”
One of the poll’s significant findings was that 29 percent of the African Americans surveyed said they would back the tea-party senator. Paul carried 13 percent of the African-American vote when he defeated Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway in his Senate race in 2010. John McCain carried just 4 percent of the African-American vote in 2008; Mitt Romney performed little better in that demographic, winning 6 percent of the black vote in 2012. This suggests that some of Paul’s outreach to the minority community — speeches at Howard University and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a push to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenders, among other things — is having an impact.
In New Hampshire, the latest poll, conducted by Dartmouth College’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, shows Paul leading Clinton by a similarly narrow margin of 2.5 points, 38.5 to 36 percent. The other candidates on the survey, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, both trail Clinton in a potential matchup, Christie by two points and Bush by ten.
And in Colorado, a Quinnipiac University poll released in late April had Paul besting Clinton by five points, 48 to 43 percent, in a potential matchup. The senator has a higher favorability rating than three other possible GOP contenders — Christie, Bush, and Mike Huckabee — polled in the survey. Clinton and Christie are tied in a potential matchup, with both winning 42 percent of the vote, and Clinton bests former Florida governor Jeb Bush 45 to 40 percent.
The poll does suggest that, among Republicans, Paul has the most reach with young voters. Clinton leads Bush and Huckabee by 21 and 11 points respectively among 18- to 29-year-olds, but Paul ran even with her among voters in that demographic, with both earning 43 percent of the vote.