The Washington Post

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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New Hampshire has voted. The Democrats debate on Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Philip Rucker and Robert Costa say...
For Trump, the victory here was sweet vindication, showing that his atypical campaign could prevail largely on the power of celebrity and saturation media coverage. But there was also potential for concern in Tuesday's outcome. Trump faces doubts about his discipline as a candidate and whether he can build his support beyond the levels he has shown in the polls.
The Post's John Wagner and Anne Gearan say...
Hillary Clinton, who was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses last week by the narrowest of margins, now finds herself struggling to right her once-formidable campaign against a self-described democratic socialist whom she has accused of selling pipe dreams to his supporters.
Quoted
People have every right to be angry. But they're also hungry for solutions.
Hillary Clinton, in her New Hampshire primary night speech
Quoted
I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.
Donald Trump, in his New Hampshire primary victory speech
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