While the 2016 presidential election is over three years away and it is still roughly two years before the primary debates will truly be in full swing, there are polls that come out from time to time that analyze the state of the potential field of candidates and how they fair. While the potential candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden headline the Democratic field, the GOP field is much more wide open and after two defeats in 2008 and 2012 there is a slightly greater spotlight on them as they search for a new standard bearer. There are names like Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie thrown around. Christie in particular has been under a growing spotlight for the GOP going back two years now as some Republican voters were vetting him for a potential run as part of the 2012 field of Republican candidates.
With a reelection campaign in the final couple months and a likely victory in November, Christie might start to begin to lay the groundwork for 2016 and a presidential run as 2014 progresses. Over the last several months, polls have shown a mixed outcome and results for Christie if he were to run.
According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released earlier this year, Christie was the most favorable of the field listed. Christie generated 55% support compared to 46% for Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) or 45% for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
As Krista Jenkins, a political scientist and director of the poll, would state;
Although early, these numbers are good news for those who are already perceived favorably by a majority or near-majority of those familiar with the candidate.
Largely due to Hurricane Sandy last October, Christie was polling better than many of his fellow GOP governors. His more moderate approach to some issues as well continues to allow him to stand apart from some other names mentioned for 2016.
Jenkins would add,
The governor’s appeal is likely based on his call for bipartisanship during his high-profile speech at the Republican convention, as well as the praise he had for President Obama in the days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged his state. However, his delicate treatment of conservative issues such as abortion and gun control will undoubtedly prove instructive as to how long he’s able to maintain bipartisan favorability.
Additionally, Christie has done well with name recognition as 68% can name the New Jersey governor or recognize his name. That only trails the 80% seen for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the 79% seen for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Rubio and Jindal are at 56% and 37% respectively.
A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll around the same time would also show good news for Christie. While Rubio was listed as the front runner in the poll, Christie was not too far behind in second. 18% of those polled favored Rubio being the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 while 14% favored Christie. Rubio was polling better than Christie among the base of the party and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI1) was also ahead of Christie when focusing strictly on conservative voters. Christie naturally does better with moderate Republicans and holds a 15 point edge over Bush as the next closest favored candidate.
However, Christie should not celebrate too much in that regard because conservative voters normally outnumber moderate voters in primary voting. At the same time, each state could provide different snapshots and should still be used as an encouraging sign if voters are looking to select a more moderate, centralist type of Republican to appeal to Independents and conservative Democrats. Christie can certainly use his strategy in 2009 and currently this year in that regard to his advantage.
Another PPP poll would show Christie as the most threatening opponent if Hillary Clinton ends up being the Democratic presidential nominee as a lot of speculation continues to point towards. If Christie were to face to Clinton in 2016, she would lead him by two points.
As Dean Debnam, president of PPP, outlined;
As expected, Hillary Clinton would be the ideal Democratic presidential candidate in 2016. But if Chris Christie could win the GOP nomination, he’d be a formidable general election candidate.
Rubio, Bush, and Ryan would all trail Clinton by at least double digits.
However, when focusing primarily on potential GOP primary voters; Christie falls to the fourth favored candidate along with Bush. Rubio, Ryan, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee are all favored more than Christie.
While this last poll leads one to think that Christie should be whom Republicans should choose if they hope to win back the White House in 2016 and beat someone like Clinton, it is still not an easy path for the New Jersey governor. A Quinnipiac poll shortly after the previous polls showed Christie continuing to outperform other GOP contenders against Clinton but still lagging against her. The poll showed Clinton up 45-37 against Christie. It shows Christie at least keeping a potential presidential race within single digits. The same cannot be said others like Rubio and Ryan who trail by double digits. Rubio trails by 16 points and Ryan trails by 12 points.
If Biden were to get the Democratic nomination, this poll shows Christie beating him by four points (46-42).
These polls would shape the potential outlook for 2016 heading into the summer where there would be more polls to come that would show a very similar picture. A picture that continues to seem tempting for Christie to eye a presidential run in 2016.