It may seem rather unbelievable, but we are only 7-8 months away from the 2016 primaries starting to ramp up, with several candidates saying they will begin to make their decisions in early 2015. Though we have the most wide open field the Republican Party has ever seen at this juncture, it would not be a stretch to say that Rand Paul is the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Indeed, through all of his recent actions Paul is showing both the vision and the ability to put together the kind of organization that is necessary for him to win the nomination and the presidency. This has given libertarians and constitutional conservatives alike plenty of reason to be excited for the future.
Though the polling can obviously change, as it stands in late June Rand Paul is leading the plurality of early national polls for the GOP nomination. Both the latest CNN/Opinion Research and ABC News/Wash Post polls have Paul winning by 2 points and 1 point, respectively, and the Real Clear Politics polling average has Paul up by 1 point. What is even more incredible is the consistency in Paul’s polling. He has been at least within 1 point of first in each of the last 5 polls, and has not finished below third in any poll since February. Yet another amazing revelation is that if you look in the crosstabs of the polling, Rand has appeal to both the very conservative and the moderate, to both the Republicans and the Independents, it appears his appeal reaches across the spectrum. Between this and Rand Paul’s first place finishes in the last 5 New Hampshire polls, there is quite a bit of reason for optimism in Rand’s camp from a polling perspective. There is also reason to believe that Rand Paul is the candidate best suited to take on Hillary Clinton based on early polling. Paul was the only candidate polled to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 polling for Colorado, New Hampshire and Kentucky, and even got 29% of the black vote in the Kentucky poll (compared to 13% when he ran for Senate in 2010). I believe any Republican can likely expect to win Kentucky, but the fact that Rand wins those two other left leaning states demands the attention of Republicans who vote based on “electability”. The electability voters have been the coalition which has won out both of the last two elections and will likely be even stronger in 2016 after the two big losses we had in 2008 and 2012. It may be that this voting bloc is already recognizing the early polls, which could explain some of Rand’s high polling numbers among moderates. If Paul can continue to convince the base that his new path forward for the GOP will be the best way to win a national election I fully expect that trend to continue. Beyond the polling, Paul has some other unique advantages that put him at the forefront of the fight for the GOP nomination.
The major advantage Paul possesses is the liberty grassroots that will give him a huge get out to vote team for the primaries. He is perhaps the only guy in Iowa with a large political team already in place, and his organization figures to be one of the states best. Another major advantage is the explosive growth in that libertarian grassroots since Ron Paul’s run in 2012. This was demonstrated at CPAC 2014, where Young Americans for Liberty brought 486 liberty activists from around the country to participate, and it was a major success. YAL has also trained over 1,100 activists in 2014 at state conventions around the country in political activism tactics. The Paul campaign will be able to turn to many of these same activists when 2016 comes around to make the trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and be active in their state primaries. YAL was created as an outgrowth from Students for Ron Paul, and in 2012 most YAL chapters converted into Students for Ron Paul chapters. This is very likely to be the case for Rand as well, but there are 527 YAL chapters today compared to 389 in 2012, and 186,000 activists in todays YAL network.
Rand Paul has also built a 50 state activism network that is made up of many large donors and experienced political people from the Paul world and the establishment alike. Paul has reached out into the tech world, and figures to have an incredibly potent fundraising base in Silicon Valley to help him compete with the Wall Street money that will flow to his establishment rivals. Between this outreach and the grassroots network that funded his fathers $40 million campaign, his fundraising prowess figures to be prolific. This will allow Rand to compete in every single primary and give him a potent group of bundlers for fundraising outreach. The closer to 2016 we get more activists will be mobilized and more money will be raised, and Rand’s army will continue to grow.
Rand Paul has been able to garner popularity among the youth like no other for a myriad of reasons, one of the biggest of which has been his massive social media presence. It is no secret that the youth are very engaged on social media, and there is no candidate with a larger presence on this platform. Rand Paul has over 1.75 million facebook likes, a “Rand Paul 2016” page with over 140,000 facebook likes and a 50 state network of pages supporting his 2016 candidacy (every state from Alabama to Wyoming has a “*State* for Rand Paul 2016” page). This benefitted Rand massively during his #StandWithRand filibuster, and will continue to assure his outreach into the youth demographic will remain unmatched. Though even if Rand did not hold these advantages, his positions on the issues would still dictate that he is the most popular among a youth generation that has grown increasingly libertarian. Rand Paul’s hard line against war and spying as well as his soft approach towards gay marriage and marijuana has broad appeal in virtually all polling. With the exception of marriage, these are also all areas where Hillary Clinton is vulnerable due to her positions, which are contrary to both Rand and the American people. Rand Paul is the only candidate in a position to take advantages of these views, and this is reflected in the fact that he has tied her in some polls among the youth demographic, including the poll where he defeats her in New Hampshire.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2016 if you are a libertarian or a constitutional conservative, and soon it will be time to organize ourselves for the campaign! Buckle your seat belt folks, this is gonna be one hell of a ride.