2016 presidential election: In early N.H. poll, Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul lead

CONCORD, N.H. - The 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary is a long way away. But at the moment, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead among Democrats and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has a slim lead in a crowded Republican field.

That's according to a survey released this week by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-affiliated firm, looking ahead to the election for a successor to President Barack Obama.

If the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary were held now, Clinton would capture 68 percent of the Democratic vote. That's far more than any other potential candidate: 12 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 5 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, 3 percent for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and 2 percent for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

PPP also found Clinton leads various Republicans in potential head-to-head matchups for the general election.

"Hillary Clinton could simultaneously demolish potential primary opponents and push swing states like New Hampshire into solidly Democratic territory," said Dean Debnam, PPP's president, in a news release. "If she decides to run, that's a unique advantage."

On the Republican side, Paul is favored by 28 percent of usual primary voters, followed by 25 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 14 percent for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and 7 percent each for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee.

The poll of 368 usual Democratic primary voters and 409 usual GOP primary voters was taken April 19 to 21, with a margin of error of 5.1 percent for the Democratic field and 4.9 percent for the Republican field.

Both Clinton and Paul have primary ties to the Granite State.

Clinton won the New Hampshire primary in 2008, blunting Obama's momentum from his victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Paul's father, retired Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, is a three-time presidential candidate who finished second in the 2012 New Hampshire primary, behind eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

If Clinton decides against a second run for president, PPP found Biden is the favorite on the Democratic side. He led the field with 44 percent, followed by 12 percent for Warren, 9 percent each for Cuomo and Patrick and less for other candidates. Some 21 percent said they would vote for an unnamed other candidate or said they didn't know.

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