Daniel Doherty

His father would be proud; this is the first time a presumed presidential candidate with the surname “Paul” has topped a national presidential poll.

That’s blog-worthy in and of itself, right?

Rand Paul has done something his father never did - top the list of potential Republican presidential candidates in a national poll.

According to a new CNN/ORC International survey, 16% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP say they would be likely to support the senator from Kentucky for the 2016 nomination.

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, garnered 15%, with longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's considering another bid for the White House, at 11%.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, is the only other Republican tested in the survey to crack double digits.

Two caveats: one, the poll doesn’t mean a whole lot for obvious reasons; and two, Paul's victory is largely symbolic:

The poll's sampling error means that statistically it's not a win for Paul, but his finish is a breakthrough for his family.

Still, the poll surveyed 367 respondents, half of whom were Indies who leaned Republican. (The other half, of course, were Republicans). Hence, evidently Paul can appeal to a wide and diverse swath of Republican primary goers -- in ways his father never could:

"Remember the 2011-2012 presidential season, when at least five GOP candidates - Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Herman Cain - topped our polls at one time or another?" said Holland. "Notice who was never in first place during that topsy-turvy time: Ron Paul."

The elder Paul, then a congressman from Texas, also never managed to get double-digit support in national polling when he ran for the GOP nomination in 2008. Paul also ran for President in 1988 as a libertarian candidate.

Ron Paul's out-of-the-mainstream views on certain issues could be problematic for his son down the stretch, no? To give just one example, the former libertarian presidential candidate is literally going around right now defending Vladimir Putin and his decision to occupy Crimea. One wonders, then, if Rand Paul appreciates his father’s convictions, or perhaps more discreetly, with a Republican presidential primary right around the corner, just wishes he’d go away.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography