Two national polls released this week show Kentucky Senator Rand Paul neck and neck with many other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Both Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling released surveys Wednesday showing Paul in second or third place in the early GOP primary field. Paul clocks in at 15 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, behind former vice presidential nominee and Congressman Paul Ryan at 17 percent, and fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio at 19 percent.
The PPP survey has Paul making a bigger leap since their previous presidential poll. Paul has 17 percent of primary voters in the PPP poll, with Rubio at 21 percent.
In the previous PPP poll, Paul was at 10 percent, sixth in the field.
Only fellow Senator Marco Rubio polls above Paul in both polls, while other well-known names, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, poll below Kentucky's senator.
The GOP presidential primary is still years away, but early jostling can help candidates ahead of official campaigns.
"The invisible primary period is the period of 2 to 3 years before the first primary, where voter name recognition and donor name recognition and positive media attention would all be necessary to create the movement for a candidate to official declare," says University of Louisville political science professor Jasmine Farrier.
"So the burden for a candidate from either party to stand out at this time is through different types of policy positions and different media events to allow that person to look somewhat differently from their peers," she adds.
Paul has made his desire to explore a presidential run no secret and has recently released policy positions on drone attacks, immigration and other prominent topics.