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Today we have a busy day, as Public Policy Polling (PPP) polled potential voters in Iowa (which traditionally kicks off the 2016 presidential race with their January caucus) on their views of the 2016 presidential race.  Yes, its early but at this point you can start to see who will be perceived as a threat for the nomination and who might be just willing to take the plunge.

Let’s start with the Republican Party first.  In Iowa, the field looks like this, in parentheses are numbers from their last poll in the Hawkeye State which took place in February):

  1. Rand Paul – 18% (15%)
  2. Chris Christie – 15% (12%)
  3. Paul Ryan – 15% (10%)
  4. Jeb Bush – 14% (14%)
  5. Marco Rubio – 11% (16%)
  6. Ted Cruz – 10% (Not Polled)
  7. Rick Santorum – 6% (Not Polled)
  8. Bobby Jindal – 2% (3%)
  9. Susana Martinez – 1% (4%)

So obviously right now the bigger winner still looks like Rand Paul and if you were a betting person, Paul would be the best person to win a caucus.  As everyone remembers, his father Ron ran for the presidency in 2008 & 2012 and his legion of supporters have done solid jobs at mobilizing support.  Paul has also become the face of the “very conservative” wing of the party for his libertarian stances and it seems the luster from his famous “drone filibuster” earlier in the year is still shining.  PPP notes that Paul leads with 25% of self-described “very conservative voters” while no one rises above 13%.

Christie, the perceived “moderate” in the race (which is wrong given how his stances are party line conservative) continues to hold down support and if there is a fractured conservative vote, he has a shot here.

Jeb Bush wins amongst seniors and his support will likely stay consistent as he’s hardly the opposite of unknown.  Paul Ryan leads amongst women (really) voters and its interesting to see how low Santorum polls even though he actually won the Iowa caucus in 2012.  Ted Cruz has a high combustibility meaning that he could eventually become a frontrunner if Rand Paul’s brand of libertarianism fails to connect to people or he could just end up speaking and people realize that he’s the male Bachmann.  Jindal’s time has come and gone, which prompts the debate if there ever was a time for him.  Martinez will likely be one of the top prospects to be a potential running mate.

Not polled were Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who has appeared in the state already and is just next door in Wisconsin and retiring Texas Governor Rick Perry.  Walker’s national star has faded a bit since his recall of last year failed but if anyone has plenty of money behind him, its him.  Perry will have nothing else to do.

But how about we take a look at Team Blue.  As always, we’ve known that the Democratic Party’s 2016 race largely hinges on if Hillary Clinton decides to make another run or not.  PPP finds out that if she does make a run…well….let’s take a look at the numbers.

  1. Hillary Clinton – 71% (68%)
  2. Joe Biden – 12% (21%)
  3. Elizabeth Warren – 5% (2%)
  4. Kirsten Gillibrand – 2% (0%)
  5. Mark Warner – 2% (2%)
  6. Andrew Cuomo – 1% (2%)
  7. Cory Booker – 1% (Not Polled)
  8. Martin O’Malley – 1% (0%)
  9. Brian Schweitzer – 0% (0%)

The parentheses in this case are compared to February’s numbers in a field with Clinton and Biden.  Nonetheless this proves what we have known all along.  Hillary Clinton is a supernova right now and she’ll be comparatively out of the public eye for awhile now, so you can expect her to run train over the field unless some major scandal breaks out.  Biden is at his most well-known ever and Warren will get some progressive support, but Clinton is just unbeatable.

However, if Clinton doesn’t run for whatever reason and Biden does, check out the numbers here.

  1. Biden – 51% (58%)
  2. Warren – 16% (7%)
  3. Cuomo – 9% (13%)
  4. Booker – 6% (Not Polled)
  5. Gillibrand – 2% (6%)
  6. O’Malley – 2% (0%)
  7. Warner – 1% (2%)
  8. Schweitzer – 0% (1%)

Biden’s support slightly ebbs a bit but without Hillary, he would be the favorite but that seems more in part to his name recognition.  If Obama’s presidency is popular enough, Biden would be able to run off that as well as having a lot of experience.  Warren has seen her support climb a tad which in her beginning half year as Senator shows that she is still very popular amongst progressives.

But let’s look at who will play “third banana” and be the beneficiary if Clinton NOR Biden run.

  1. Warren – 20% (17%)
  2. Cuomo – 18% (26%)
  3. Booker – 12% (Not Polled)
  4. Gillibrand – 7% (5%)
  5. O’Malley – 4% (8%)
  6. Schweitzer – 3% (2%)
  7. Warner – 2% (2%)

Now this is where it gets interesting, though I doubt this hypothetical happens.  Warren would be the favorite given her profile and Cuomo has high name recognition from his status as Governor of New York as well as being the son of Mario Cuomo.  Cory Booker makes his debut in presidential polling and his nationwide celebrity seems to be paying dividends as he likely is the top, young “rising star” for the Democrats.  He has yet to be elected Senator but all indications prove that he’s the guy to beat and then his status will continue to climb.  I expect Gillibrand to earn more support as I doubt Warren will run, but she could be the darkhorse here.

O’Malley might be the “safe, boring” pick for VP and Schweitzer will need to announce his run for Senator (then win a campaign) for him to be taken seriously as a national candidate.  Warner will have some money to play with and could emerge as the “moderate” choice but doesn’t offer much excitement.

Others who weren’t polled include Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Howard Dean.

In general though, the narrative continues to be the same.  The Republicans have a deep bench, but no perceived frontrunner yet and the Democrats have a big-time starter.  However if Clinton doesn’t run, it gets very interesting for Democrats as the next generation of politicians will take center stage.

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