For pollsters, pols and pundits, 2016 is just around the corner

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Virginia on Saturday. (Jose Luis Magana/AP) Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Virginia on Saturday. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Potential presidential candidates are already testing the waters. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), for example, was in the earliest states — Iowa and New Hampshire  last summer — even though the election is more than three years away.

But wait! It’s only a bit  more than two years until the critical First in the Nation New Hampshire primary. And a new University of New Hampshire poll has come out with good news for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and fantastic news for former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Paul, at 17 percent, is a point ahead of Christie, and both are well ahead of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) with 9 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 8 percent and Cruz at 6 percent.

As for the Democrats, Clinton is favored by a whopping 64 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has 6 percent, tied with Vice President Biden.

Okay, it’s early. And the polls are relatively meaningless save maybe to set a bit of a baseline for further polling down the road and get some clicks online.  The poll itself notes that “New Hampshire primary voters typically decide who they will vote for in the last weeks, or even days, of the campaign.” (Even so, 2 percent already said they would not vote for Hickenlooper.  Who? That’s Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), so he’s got some heavy lifting to do.)

Even the politically astute folks in the Granite State didn’t seem to have focused much on the race, with many saying they didn’t know enough to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of many of the GOP candidates, with Cruz leading the field at 43 percent.

Well, remember Bill Clinton’s 1992 theme song: “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” So now, for 2020, we’re thinking. . .

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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Emily Heil · October 23, 2013