This poll isn’t as apocalyptic for Paul 2016 as WaPo suggests, but taken together with other recent data showing a GOP trend back towards intervention (see this NYT poll or this one from CBS or this showstopper from YouGov), yeah, pretty bad.
On the other hand, given the indie numbers here, the eventual Paul 2016 post-primaries third-party candidacy should hit the ground running.
Some historical data here from CNN would have been nice to see how much the number of GOP hawks shifted during the darkest days of the Iraq war and the rise of Rand over the last two years. Oh well. As I say, though, is that 69 percent figure really a disaster for Paul? Check out the trendline:
There are more doves now than there were at Iraq’s nadir. Rand can work with that in the general election. But doesn’t this mean, per the Republican numbers above, that he’s sunk in the primaries? I dunno: Rand’s foreign-policy message isn’t really “doves vs. hawks” so much as it is a caution to voters about forever wanting the U.S. to take a leading role in trying to solve international problems. Turns out CNN asked a question about that too. Behold:
Interestingly, despite the huge hawk/dove partisan split above, there’s no partisan split on this one. When Democrats are asked the “leading role” question, they split 46/52 against; when Republicans are asked, they split 43/54 notwithstanding the huge number of “hawks” among them. The sweet spot for Rand 2016 is convincing Republicans that it’s possible to be hawkish and to think the U.S. shouldn’t forever be taking charge of whatever international crisis has bubbled up. That’s been the whole thrust of his “I’m following Reagan’s model” defense of his foreign policy, in fact. Contra what his dad would have you think, military force is sometimes appropriate; we just need to be discerning like the Gipper and pick our spots better. If you believe the numbers here, there’s an audience potentially for that message if Rand can sell it. His problem is that Cruz and Rubio will be out there giving voters a high-octane dose of “America is the indispensable nation” rhetoric. Can the indispensable nation really afford to abdicate its leading role internationally? And isn’t Rand kinda sorta a hippie for suggesting otherwise? (The last bit will be merely implied.)
Two more quickie data points for you. The numbers among 18- to 34-year-olds here are … interesting. The first question is the “leading role” question above, the second is the “hawks and doves” query:
Rand’s got an eager audience of younger voters willing to hear a less interventionist message in the general election. All he needs to do is somehow not alienate older voters — the GOP’s base — in the primaries. Gulp. But hey, now you know why vulnerable liberal Democrats are all running as ISIS hawks in the midterms this year. If you’re from a red state, it pays to be what red-state voters want.