Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has pulled ahead of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the key swing states of Iowa and Colorado in a hypothetical 2016 presidential election matchup, a new Quinnipiac Swing State Poll revealed.
The Republican firebrand is also within striking distance of the former first lady in Virginia, trailing by 4 percentage points in deep purple Old Dominion.
Sen. Paul leads Mrs. Clinton 43 percent to 42 percent in Iowa — the best showing of any Republican contender against in a head-to-head against her.
Sen. Paul will be in Iowa Friday as part of his five-state presidential announcement tour that began in his home state of Kentucky Tuesday.
The eye-surgeon turned politician has had some success in wooing Iowa’s evangelical voters, who dominate that state’s first-in-the-nation Republican presidential caucus every four years.
In 2012, 57 percent of Iowa caucus-goers described themselves as evangelicals in an Edison Research poll for the Associated Press.
The latest poll is expected to renew Democrats’ concerns about Mrs. Clinton’s vulnerabilities, which were underscored by her use of a private email server based in her home basement while serving as secretary of state.
Mrs. Clinton, though not an officially declared candidate, is so far unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Iowa GOP and religious leaders say a few of Mr. Paul’s nomination rivals — declared and undeclared — stand a good chance of prevailing in the Iowa caucuses if they were held tomorrow, instead of next year.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former evangelical pastor, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas rank high with born-again voters in Iowa.
And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has an opportunity to divide the vote among his rivals and if he looks like a winner bring enough of the evangelical vote to him to prevail in the caucuses, Iowa GOP political leaders and activists say.