Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has narrowed a formerly wide gap with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton among young voters, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.
The poll suggests that if Paul were matched up with Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state, in a general-election matchup, he could fare the best for a Republican candidate among youth voters since George W. Bush in 2004.
Clinton leads Paul, 55-43, among voters aged 18-34, according to the poll. For Paul, that’s 10 points better than a 59-37 deficit in the same poll in March. It comes after Paul boosted his credibility on an issue that resonates with younger voters, as he took to the Senate floor to oppose the reauthorization of the Patriot Act and the National Security Agency’s bulk-collection programs.
Clinton leads Paul among all voters by a single point — 48-47 — well within the poll's margin of error.
Paul comes closest to Clinton with young voters by far among Republican candidates. Other GOP hopefuls are behind her by at least 20 points. Here’s a look at where they stand with the 18-34 crowd:
- Clinton 67, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 28 (51-43 overall)
- Clinton 58, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 38 (49-46 overall)
- Clinton 60, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 37 (49-46 overall)
- Clinton 61, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 33 (52-43 overall)
In the most recent presidential election, President Barack Obama outpaced Republican nominee Mitt Romney 60-37 among 18- to 29-year-old voters. George W. Bush was the last to get within single digits of a Democrat, when he trailed Democratic nominee John Kerry by just 9 points in 2004.
Young voters give mixed signs about Clinton’s candidacy. By a 55-38 split, they view her favorably — but that is slightly down from the 59 percent that had a favorable opinion of her in March. Only a slight majority, 51 percent, say she is “honest and trustworthy.” And by a 50-43 margin, more young voters say they are “dissatisfied” with how she handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as secretary of state.
But by a 56-42 margin, young voters say they believe Clinton “cares about people like you.” Her husband, Bill Clinton, could be an asset — 52 percent of young voters say the fact that he was president would make them “more likely” to vote for her. And by a 31-point margin, young voters say they think she “represents the future” rather than the past.
By comparison, 70 percent of young voters say Jeb Bush represents “the past.” The same is true for a majority of voters (50-47) with Paul. The two candidates (or potential candidates) who young voters believe represents the future are Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.