COMMENTARY | She’s only been gone a month and it would appear that Hillary Clinton’s stock has already risen somewhat with regard to becoming the next president of the United States. In a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, Clinton defeated all but one of her possible Republican challengers by double digits: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
According to the poll, the former secretary of state, who stepped down from her office on Feb. 1, would defeat Christie in a hypothetical match-up 45 percent to 37 percent.
Quinnipiac paired up nine sets of potential presidential face-offs in all. For Democrats, Clinton was by far the strongest 2016 hopeful. She increased her lead when matched against failed 2012 vice presidential candidate and current congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. She also knocked off up-and-coming Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., 50 percent to 34 percent.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, says of the poll: “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would start a 2016 presidential campaign with enormous advantages. She obviously is by far the best known and her more than 20 years in the public spotlight allows her to create a very favorable impression on the American people. But it is worth noting that she had very good poll numbers in 2006 looking toward the 2008 election, before she faced a relative unknown in Barack Obama.”
At the moment, it would appear that Gov. Christie just might be the Republicans one best hope of keeping another Democrat out of the White House in January 2017. When matched against Vice President Joe Biden, Christie comes out on top, 43 percent to 40 percent. He also tops possible Democratic contender Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, 45 percent to 28 percent.
Biden bests Ryan by 3 percentage points, Rubio by 7.
But conservatives are a bit leery of Christie, many believing he just isn’t conservative enough. Some of that comes from his touting President Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Christie’s home state. Some has to do with things like his acceptance of Obamacare, a program with which he doesn’t agree but, at the moment, is something that his state could use (in terms of federal funding, the number of people it would help, jobs created, and jobs maintained).
Still, Christie is a candidate that conservative Democrats can get behind, not to mention independents. In fact, that appears to be former Clinton’s major advantage — her ability to draw the Independent vote. She splits that vote with Christie. However, Biden and Cuomo lose the Independent vote to all the Republican hopefuls. In fact, Biden loses the independent vote against Christie by the widest margin — 12 percent.
And even though the crossover vote is negligible in most of the matchups, it should be noted that Clinton averages 11 percent across the three possible GOP opponents. But if Biden were the candidate, Christie pulls 16 percent of the Democratic vote to Biden’s 5 percent from the Republican ranks. (And since Christie wins that matchup 43 percent to 40 percent, the Democratic defection, along with the Independent lean toward the right without Clinton as a candidate, is telling.)
More disheartening to Republicans, though, is that a Public Policy Polling survey released just after Clinton left the Secretary of State office in February showed that Christie trailed Clinton by only 4 points. If polling procedures are comparable among the two surveying organizations (Quinnipiac and Public Policy Polling), the latest poll could be the sign of a troubling trend for the GOP and their bid for the White House in 2016.
But only if Clinton runs.
Democratic Party leaders have got to be keeping their fingers crossed that Clinton remains healthy and still wants the presidency come 2016.
And you know the leaders of the GOP are thanking all the political gods that they’ve got three years to undermine Clinton’s numbers and find a credible nominee for president. Or, even better for Republicans, she chooses not to run at all.