Sens. Rand Paul and Jim DeMint meet with Tea Party activists who gathered on Capitol Hill for their first caucus meeting to share concerns.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- 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.
The poll's sampling error means that statistically it's not a win for Paul, but his finish is a breakthrough for his family.
A national Quinnipiac poll found Paul tied with Ryan in January for the top spot. That appears to be as close as either Rand Paul or his father, Ron Paul, has ever come to nabbing first place all by himself in any national poll.
Among the other potential presidential hopefuls in the new CNN survey, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is at 9%, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas each at 8%.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida registered 5% and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who battled eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney deep into the 2012 GOP primary and caucus calendar, polled 3%.
"With a crowded field and no clear frontrunner among the potential candidates, we should expect to see constant fluctuation in the amount of support most candidates get and the order of finish, so it would be easy to read too much into these numbers," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
While Paul is only 1 point ahead of Ryan, his placement is symbolic.
"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.
Same story among Democrats
In the potential race for the Democratic nomination, it's the same old story: if Hillary Clinton runs, she would start the race as her party's overwhelming frontrunner.
According to the poll, which was released Sunday, 63% of Democrats and independents who lean toward the party say they'd favor Clinton as the Democratic nominee, with Vice President Joe Biden a distant second at 13%.
The former secretary of state has said that she'll decide by the end of the year whether she makes a second run for the White House, and Biden has said he'll decide about making a third bid for the Democratic nomination either later this year or early next.
Three other possible Democratic presidential candidates, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, and former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, all register in the low single digits.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International March 7-9, with 801 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The sample includes 367 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP and 372 Democrats and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party.
The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 5 percentage points for the Democratic and Republican nomination questions.
posted by Greg Palmer