Clinton, Christie Lead First Polls Of 2016 N.H. Primaries

November 9, 2012 5:09 a.m.

For much of the American electorate, the culmination of the 2012 campaign has provided a much-needed respite from politics. But for the prolific pollsters at Public Policy Polling? Let the 2016 race to the White House begin!

The Democratic-leaning firm gave TPM an early look at its survey of the 2016 presidential field in New Hampshire, which, given the reshuffling of the primary calendar in recent years, may not even maintain its outsized electoral role four years from now.

Regardless, the poll found two clear frontrunners in the race: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the Republicans and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democrats.

Twenty-one percent of Republicans in the state favor Christie as the party’s nominee in four years. A cluster of prospective candidates trail Christie but still crack 10 percent: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (14 percent), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (13 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (11 percent) and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (10 percent).

Ryan and Rice enjoy the highest name recognition among Republican voters in the state and that helps give them both a favorability rating above 80 percent. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, on the other hand, is viewed favorably by only 48 percent of his fellow Republicans in New Hampshire. Along with Paul, only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum are viewed unfavorably by more than 20 percent of New Hampshire Republicans.

Democrats, meanwhile, overwhelmingly back a Clinton candidacy, providing further indication that the party’s nomination in 2016 is likely hers if she wants it. The poll shows that 60 percent of New Hampshire Democrats give her nod, creating miles of separation from the other seven candidates included in the survey. After Clinton, only Vice President Joe Biden — who cryptically told reporters on Election Day that he wasn’t voting for himself for the last time — reaches 10 percent.

Polls have routinely shown Clinton to be the most popular member of the Obama administration, and a separate PPP survey showed her as the prohibitive favorite to win the next Iowa caucuses. So dominant is her current standing in the party that PPP asked New Hampshire Democrats who they would support if she weren’t in the 2016 field. With Clinton out of the picture, Biden emerges as a mild favorite with the support of 26 percent. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (15 percent), newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (11 percent) and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (9 percent) trail Biden. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner all fail to break 5 percent.

Known for its fertile output, such a poll shouldn’t be surprising from PPP. The North Carolina-based firm frequently asks voters for their take on local sports teams and issues that occur at the intersection of politics and pop culture. But PPP is hardly alone in its gaze toward 2016. This week’s issue of Time includes a glossy slide show of potential contenders for the next presidential election. And Rubio will reportedly be travelling to Iowa next weekend for a political fundraiser.

PPP’s survey indicated that nearly 30 percent of New Hampshire Republicans don’t have an opinion of Florida’s junior senator. Fortunately for Rubio, he has four years to change that.

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