Washington Post 
March 18, 2014
Two things happened over the weekend in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
1. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul led the field in a national poll conducted by CNN/ORC International .
2. Paul won the straw poll at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conferen ce.
Those two events come just a week after Paul cruised to another 2016 straw poll victory at the Conservative Political Action Conference . Add those things up and it’s quite clear that Paul is the candidate of the moment on the Republican side. There’s no one — not even Ted Cruz or Jeb Bush — who has the sort of devoted following of Paul. And, the Kentucky senator has a number of other built-in advantages over the other oft-mentioned 2016 candidates — many of them due to his father’s bids for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012.
* Fundraising. Then Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) raised $35 million for his 2008 presidential campaign and collected $41 million for his 2012 campaign. The $35 million figure is probably the floor of what the younger Paul can raise in 2016, a total he can harvest simply by re-upping with many of the same people who gave to his father. That’s a significant nest egg on which to start a presidential primary campaign in which the field is likely to be very crowded — meaning that the cash pie will be split a million (ha ha) different ways. Paul, unlike anyone else in the field, has a fundraising stream almost all to himself. People who gave to his father in 2008/2012 are not the sort of people who are traditional Republican establishment donors; they are for Paul or no one. And, there is evidence that Paul the younger isn’t content with just collecting checks from his father’s network. He was in Atlanta in January, for example, meeting and greeting establishment donor types , one of a series of such events that he has done over the past months.