The recent national 2016 poll from Public Policy Polling has some interesting crosstabs that really illustrate some of the challenges that Rand Paul is going to face in trying to become President. I'm not so interested in the GOP primary section of the poll as it shows a statistical 4 way tie for the lead among Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. If you add up all the moderate/establishment candidates you get about 40% of the vote, all the conservative ones, 45%, with 15% undecided. That just means if there are more conservative candidates than moderate ones, we'll end up with another Mitt Romney. If we have more moderate candidates than conservative ones like in 1980, we'll end up with Reagan. It's that simple. We pretty much need Jeb Bush AND Chris Christie to run at the same time to split that vote or else we could be screwed again.
Anyway, what I found interesting (and a little bit concerning) in the crosstabs is that Rand Paul's net favorability rating amongst women is -11%, while Rubio is at -2% and Chris Christie is at +18%! So it's not just a horde of Democratic women simply hating Republicans, there is something about Rand Paul that is turning them off in comparison to the likes of Rubio and Christie. Even worse is the over 65 year old group. This is a group that Romney carried with 56% of the vote. Rand Paul's net favorability is -9% with this group, as compared to +1% for Rubio and +13% for Christie.
The problem is, I'm not sure there is anything obvious that he can do to reach out to either of them as he has pretty much touched the third rail for both groups. How is Rand Paul going to get around the "Life at Conception Act" that he introduced? Women's groups are going to beat him over the head with it every day of the week and twice on Sunday. He needs to find some hook now to make him more friendly to female voters and he can't wait until the last minute like Romney did (no wonder Obama got 55% of the female vote).
For the elderly, the solution isn't simple there either. Thanks to his budget plan, he is on record promoting the privatization of social security (including raising the retirement age) and privatizing medicare. The elderly are, for the most part, now completely dependent on the government for their healthcare and their income so monkeying around with it makes them extremely nervous. And it's not like Rand Paul can make up ground by just getting the youth vote. The elderly vote much more often, there are a lot of them thanks to boomers retiring and Rand Paul's favorability amongst the 18-29 group is -13%!. He really needs to find some magic middle where he is reforming entitlements, making the lives of retirees easier while at the same time lifting the burden from their children and grandchildren. And again, he needs to do it now. If he can't carry the elderly, he will have no chance in 2016.