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Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton top CNN 2016 presidential candidates poll

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Kentucky Senator Rand Paul topped his second straight poll in a week of "potential Republican presidential candidates," while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained her supremacy at the top of the potential Democratic candidates list in a new CNN/ORC International survey released on Sunday, March 16, 2014. Most of the potential candidates however, will not make their intentions to run clear until after the midterm elections in November.

The CNN poll asked Republicans and Republican leaning independents what their choice would be for the 2016 Republican nomination. The numbers were close with the libertarian GOP Sen. Paul leading at 16 percent, while 2012 vice presidential nominee and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan came in a close second at 15 percent.

The remainder had a boost from the appearances and speeches last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who gave a fiery speech at the second day of the CPAC conference, saw his light shine brighter with a third place finish at 11 percent. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran in 2008 also gave a speech on CPAC's second day and placed fourth at 10 percent in CNN's poll.

The remainder in the poll only had single digit results; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush placed fifth with 9 percent, tying at sixth place was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 8 percent support. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has seen his prospects fall since last year finished at almost same place he did at CPAC with 5 percent. While former 2012 presidential candidate and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum finished last with only 3 percent support.

In 2012 at different points of time in the campaign each of the major candidates had topped CNN's polls, except for Rand Paul's father former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who never lead any of CNN polls of presidential candidates when he ran for the Republican nomination in 2008 and 2012.

CNN's Polling Director Keating Holland expressed; "With a crowded field and no clear front-runner among the potential candidates, we should expect to see constant fluctation in the amount of support most candidates get and the order of finishing, so it would be easy to read too much into these numbers."

On the Democratic side, the number of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents overwhelmingly stand behind Hillary Clinton with 63 percent of support, as they have in the majority of early polls. While Vice President Joe Biden came in second with only 11 percent; he was the only Democrat to have double digit support. Only three others polled for the Democrats, but made poor single digit showings; "New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer."

Clinton said she has not yet decided on running, and will not do so until later in the year, the same can be said about Biden who might make his decision as late as early 2015. With so much stock taken into a potential Clinton campaign, the Washington Post is wondering what would happen if Clinton decides not to run. There would be "chaos" and a scramble to fill her shoes and find a suitable Democratic presidential candidate to run in 2016.

It is the first time Paul has lead in a national poll, although last Saturday, March 8, for the second year Paul won the CPAC straw poll. At the end of the three-day conference attendees chose Paul with 31 percent, while Cruz was a distant second with 11 percent.

The remainder had showings in the single digits, Dr. Ben Carson was third with 9 percent; Christie was fourth with 8 percent; there was a tie for fifth place between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Santorum at 7 percent, placing seventh was Rubio with only 6 percent, last year Rubio was second with 23 percent.

At the bottom of the straw poll was Ryan and Perry at eighth place with 3 percent. Sitting in last place was a four-way tie with "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice," Huckabee and CPAC keynote speaker and "former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin" all with 2 percent. Except for Paul the top results at CPAC represent a far different line-up of candidates than those in the CNN poll.

Although Paul might be topping recent Republican presidential candidates' polls, he is still not certain if he will run in 2016. Speaking on "Fox News Sunday" on March 9, Paul said; "We're definitely talking about it. My family's talking about it. We do the things that would be necessary to make sure that it can happen and will work. But I truly haven't made my mind up and won't make my mind up until after the 2014 elections."

Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.

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