March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads among prospective 2016 presidential candidates in a poll out today that shows the Democrat besting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and two other Republicans.
Christie holds the strongest position among his party’s potential White House hopefuls. He’s ahead when pitted against two other Democrats mentioned as White House contenders, Vice President Joe Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to the survey of U.S. voters by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University.
“Clinton would start a 2016 presidential campaign with enormous advantages,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute. “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.”
Clinton, then a U.S. senator from New York and a former first lady, lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Obama, who was elected president and named her secretary of state.
She left the State Department earlier this year and was succeeded by John Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator and the unsuccessful 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton, 65, hasn’t discussed plans to seek public office again, though supporters have formed a super-political action committee to back a possible presidential campaign by her.
The Quinnipiac poll showed Clinton leading Christie, 45 percent to 37 percent; Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, 50 percent to 34 percent; and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, his party’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, 50 percent to 38 percent.
Christie, who is running for re-election as governor in November, finishes ahead of Biden, 43 percent to 40 percent, and Cuomo, 45 percent to 28 percent.
The vice president leads both Rubio, 45 percent to 38 percent, and Ryan, 45 percent to 42 percent. Cuomo trails Ryan, 42 percent to 37 percent, and is even with Rubio at 37 percent.
Christie, 50, “runs best of the three Republicans tested and would defeat two of the top Democrats” and “obviously is doing better than the Democrats’ rising star,” Cuomo of New York, Brown said.
Obama’s job approval rating stands at 45 percent, with 46 percent disapproving, virtually unchanged from 46 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval ratings last month. Congressional Republicans draw an unfavorable rating of 71 percent -- including 53 percent from members of their own party -- and a favorable rating of 20 percent. That also was statistically unchanged from the 72 unfavorable and 19 percent favorable ratings of a month ago.
“The Republican brand is not doing very well these days,” Brown said.
Gun control measures Obama has proposed in reaction to the December mass killings of 20 elementary school students and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, are supported by a majority of poll respondents.
Voters backed Obama’s calls for universal background checks for all gun purchases, 88 percent to 10 percent; for bans on military-style assault weapons, 54 percent to 41 percent; and for prohibitions against selling high-capacity ammunition magazines, 54 percent to 42 percent.
The survey of 1,944 registered voters was conducted Feb. 27-March 4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.
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