DETROIT — New numbers from Public Policy Polling show Rand Paul has a slight edge over a crowded field of Republican contenders  in very early numbers for the 2016 primary.

The poll showed 18 percent of primary voters in Michigan say he would be their first choice for 2016, followed by Jeb Bush at 16 percent, Chris Christie at 15 percent, Paul Ryan at 12 percent, Marco Rubio at 11 percent, Ted Cruz at 7 percent, Rick Santorum at 6 percent, Bobby Jindal at 4 percent, and Susana Martinez with less than 1 percent.

On the Democratic side, recent polls showed Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead, leading challengers at 68 percent.

Ultra-conservative Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, is active in the Tea Party.

Paul leads based on his strength with two key groups, according to the poll: Among voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative,’ he’s at 31 percent with none of the other GOP hopefuls higher than 15 percent. And with voters under 45 he’s at 28 percent, giving him at least a 13 point lead over the rest of the field.

“That appeal to younger voters suggests he may be able to replicate the strong base of support his father had with them in last year’s race,” pollsters wrote. Paul’s father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, unsuccessfully ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 and then twice as a Republican.

But there is one sour note in the Michigan numbers for Rand Paul, with numbers showing “If Hillary Clinton’s the Democratic candidate for President at least for now it looks like the state will remain firmly in the blue column,” the poll found.

The only Republican who even comes within single digits of her is Christie, who still trails 44-38. The other 3 trail by margins closer to Barack Obama’s 16 point margin of victory in 2008 than his 9 point victory from last fall- Clinton is up 14 on Bush at 51/37, 17 on Rubio at 53/36, and 20 on Paul at 55/35.


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