Yesterday Rasmussen Reports released the latest 2016 presidential election poll which shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a large lead over the major potential Republican challengers. Rasmussen's survey samples voters across the nation as opposed to any individual state. Of course, the presidency is decided through the Electoral College according to victories within the states, but Rasmussen's poll still suggest Clinton goes into the 2016 as the strong favorite should she decide to run. The following is a breakdown of the poll. For more polling updates through the 2016 presidential election follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribe to this page through the link on the left.
The Overall Numbers
According to the Rasmussen poll Clinton leads all the potential Republican challengers by a large margin nationally as seen below:
Clinton (47 percent) versus former Gov. Chris Christie (33 percent)
Clinton (46 percent) versus Sen. Rand Paul (39 percent)
Clinton (47 percent) versus Sen. Marco Rubio (36 percent)
Clinton (50 percent) versus Sen. Ted Cruz (37 percent)
Clinton (50 percent) versus Gov. Rick Perry (36 percent)
What the Poll Means
As mentioned earlier, the Electoral College is decided state-by-state. As Al Gore discovered in the 2000 presidential election, a candidate can win the popular vote nationally and yet lose the Electoral College.
Still, no candidate has ever won the national vote by as large of a margin as Clinton is winning in this poll (a minimum of seven points) and ended up losing the Electoral College as well.
In one manner this poll points to Clinton's strength. She consistently beats all the major potential Republican challengers by at least seven points and by much larger margins in many cases. Clinton is more well known than other candidates and voters 46-50 percent of voters clearly feel comfortable with her.
However, in another way the poll points to Clinton's potential weakness. Clinton is never able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote even when she is matched up against the less well known, more conservative candidates like Ted Cruz and Rick Perry. The numbers suggest that once someone like Paul or Rubio win the Republican Party nomination they could raise their support to levels at or near Clinton's 46-50 percent.
Comparison to Other Polls
The poll falls in line very well with other polls that have consistently shown Clinton leading nationally.
A Real Clear Politics average of polls from the last three months shows Clinton leading Christie by 9.5 points, Paul by 9.0 points, Cruz by 13.8 points, and Rubio by 11.5 points. There has been less polling showing how Clinton matches up against Perry, but polls from CNN and McClatchy/Marist from last December showed Clinton with a lead of 17 points and 21 points respectively.
Simply put, the pollsters are in consensus that Clinton, as she currently stands, has a sizeable lead over all the Republicans. This Rasmussen poll simply reinforces what the pollsters already agreed upon.
Every poll is ultimately based on a sampling of potential voters. A number of factors can influence the poll's accuracy such as sample size and composition
In this poll Rasmussen surveyed 1,000 likely voters. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.0 percent.
Rasmussen only allows premium users to a demographic breakdown of their sample.
In his 2012 ratings Nate Silver found Rasmusen Reports to be one of the worst pollsters in terms of accuracy. Silver's analysis compared 60 Rasmussen polls to the actual results in the 2012 presidential elections.
Specifically, Rasmussen has often been accused of favoring Republican candidates either intentionally or unintentionally through their sampling methods and the manner in which they produce their numbers. For instance, Rasmussen would routinely rely on land line only phones, excluding cell phone only users who tend to vote more Democratic. In 2012 Rasmussen showed a 3.7 point bias towards Mitt Romney over President Obama.
Since the 2012 race the founder and President of the organization, Scott Rasmussen, left the company. Since Rasmussen's left, some have seen a shift in Rasmussen's numbers toward Democratic candidates.