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Chris Christie leads GOP pack for 2016

A pair of new polls hints at a likely matchup between Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential race. Christie and Clinton are the current favorites for their party’s presidential nomination. Christie is the only Republican who currently leads Clinton in head-to-head polling.

Chris Christie leads in polls of potential GOP presidential candidates for 2016.  He is in a dead with Hillary Clinton.
Bob Jagendorg/Wikimedia

A Fox News poll released Dec. 27 found that Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton lead the nomination fight for 2016. Among Democrats, 68 percent prefer Hillary Clinton as the next presidential nominee. Clinton holds a 56 point lead over Vice President Joe Biden, the second place finisher. Elizabeth Warren, currently a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, was third with seven percent. New York governor Andrew Cuomo ranked fourth with four percent. Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick both garnered one percent.

Chris Christie, recently re-elected governor of New Jersey, topped the Fox News list of Republicans for 2016. Christie’s 16 percent was four points better than the second place finishers, but hints at a much tougher fight for the Republican nomination than Hillary Clinton is likely to face.

There is a strong fight for second place in the Republican poll. Senator Ted Cruz (Tex.), Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisc.), and Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, all scored 12 percent. Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, received 11 percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished fourth with eight percent and Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, received six percent. 2012 candidates Rick Perry and Rick Santorum both have the support of three percent in the current poll.

Republicans are also much more uncommitted than Democrats at this point. Seventeen percent of Republicans (one percent prefer other candidates, five percent prefer none of the above, and 11 percent don’t know) are uncommitted to any of the top candidates. On the Democratic side only eight percent are uncommitted (two percent prefer none of the above and six percent don’t know). This means that a serious Democratic challenger would have to attack Hillary’s record in an attempt to reduce her lead, while Republican hopefuls can focus their efforts on undecided voters with a more positive message.

A second poll from Dec. 26 by CNN/Opinion Research focuses on head-to-head races between top Republicans and Hillary Clinton. The only Republican who outpolled Clinton was Chris Christie. Christie edged out Clinton by 48-46 percent. The result was within the margin of error for the poll.

Christie “performs particularly well among independents, winning nearly six in 10 in that key group," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "He also wins a majority of suburbanites and older voters, something that no other GOP hopeful [that was] tested was able to do against Clinton. Christie doesn't win in the Northeast, although he does hold Clinton to a bare majority there, but he has a solid edge in the Midwest while playing Clinton to a draw in the South and West.” Even though Clinton won among women by 10 points, Christie outpolled her among men by a 14 point margin.

Two other national polls in recent weeks also show Christie and Clinton in a statistical dead heat. A Quinnipiac poll from Dec. 19 favored Clinton 44-43 while Public Policy, a Democratic polling firm, gave Christie a 45-42 edge on Dec. 18.

The Republican who fared second best against Clinton in the CNN poll was Paul Ryan. Ryan is House Budget Committee chairman and was Mitt Romney’s vice presidential candidate in 2012. Ryan has earned prominence for his role in negotiating an end to the government shutdown and the recent budget agreement. In current polling, Ryan trails Clinton by eight points.

All other potential Republican challengers currently trail Mrs. Clinton by double digit margins. In third place, Rand Paul trails by 13 points (41-54 percent). The other three potential candidates ranked in the poll trail by nearly 20 point each. Ted Cruz loses 39-57 percent while Marco Rubio is at 37-56 percent. Jeb Bush fared worst of all at 37-58 percent.

With two years to go before the beginning of the 2016 primary season, Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination while Chris Christie holds a slight edge among Republicans. With the current travails of Obamacare still underway and ominous signs appearing for Democrats, the current political climate may be unusually fluid.