While Hillary Clinton remains a clear early front-runner among possible candidates for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, the Republican field is awfully crowded.
According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday, 64 percent of Democrats and independent voters would vote for Clinton. But support for the former first lady and secretary of state has dipped slightly. The same poll conducted in January found that 70 percent of those voters favored Clinton, who has yet to announce her candidacy.
“Clinton is still in a commanding position, but the poll suggests that some rank and file Democrats are shopping for an alternative but have not found one yet,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said in a statement accompanying the poll results.
On the Republican side, the field of possible candidates is wide open. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul are tied at 13 percent — with Bush up 4 percent since March and Paul down 3 percent. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, is third at 12 percent, followed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (10 percent), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (9 percent), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (8 percent), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6 percent).
Perry, whose bid for the 2012 GOP nomination fell short, has strongly hinted he’s up for another run.
“I think America is a place that believes in second chances,” Perry said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC. “I think that we see more character out of an individual by how do you perform after you fail and you go forward.”
Perry, who is serving his final nine months as Texas governor, is scheduled to visit Iowa later this month. It will be his third trip to the state since the last presidential cycle ended.
And Paul, a libertarian, has been publicly courting support from News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch. Last weekend, Paul hosted the media mogul at the Kentucky Derby.
Neither Paul nor Murdoch picked the winning horse.
But the what-ifs on the GOP side make early poll results like these “murky,” Holland admitted. “If Bush doesn’t run — something his own mother would like to see — no single candidate benefits, with Christie, Ryan and Rubio all picking up two points of support.”
If Christie doesn’t run, Bush is the biggest beneficiary — but the former Florida governor would gain just 3 percentage points. If Cruz doesn’t run, Paul would gain 3 points; if Paul doesn’t run, Cruz gains 3 points, while Walker, Huckabee and Rubio gain 2 points each.
“It all adds up to a tangled — and very hypothetical — picture of what may come in 2015 and 2016,” Holland said.