The latest on the presidential horse race.

Rand Paul’s New Hampshire, Iowa Momentum Could Propel Him to Nomination

A new Dartmouth poll released over the weekend has found that Rand Paul is the only Republican candidate who leads presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. This is no surprise after Paul led six of the last seven Republican polls out of the first-in-the-nation primary state. As we all know, momentum is key in a primary season and Paul’s chances at winning the nomination may actually be far better than they look around the country.

The first voters to go to the polls in 2016 will be in Iowa where former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee looks strong but is no guarantee to run. Huckabee has led every Iowa poll in which he’s appeared and won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucus. At the same time, he opted not to run in 2012 and isn’t doing nearly as well in other states. Should Huckabee opt to sit this one out, Paul is the only other candidate to consistently poll in double-digits since polling began.

Though Jeb Bush remains strong in Iowa, Paul would certainly have a strong shot to win at least some of the Iowa delegates, especially if fellow Tea Partier Ted Cruz declines to run.

A week after Iowa will be the New Hampshire primary where Paul has now led in all but one poll since summer 2013. His father was incredibly popular in New Hampshire when he ran multiple times and Rand is carrying on that legacy, leading Chris Christie and Paul Ryan in the latest poll while every other candidate is in single-digits.

Barring a Christie upswing, New Hampshire looks like it will be Paul’s to lose. If Paul can win or place high in the Iowa caucus and win the New Hampshire primary, his chances in the first real big primary in Florida will increase exponentially.

Of course, if Jeb Bush runs, it’s a moot point and the former Florida governor will win his homestate handedly. If he opts not to run and let Christie carry the moderate torch, Paul would be in a much stronger spot as he trails Florida Senator Marco Rubio (who is almost definitely going to run if Bush doesn’t) by five points.

Wins or strong finishes in those three states could certainly propel Paul’s candidacy. With the primary schedule still being worked out, a lot can change but Paul’s standing in the early votes puts him in a prime spot to build enough momentum to bring to other states to capture the GOP nomination.