Preview of 2016: Clinton vs. Christie?

Admitting that they’re getting a little bored with the 2012 race, the folks at Public Policy Polling decided to take a look ahead at the race for 2016.

Their insanely early survey shows Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination.  On the Republican side, assuming President Romney is not seeking re-election, New Jersey governor Chris Christie holds a slight lead over Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee.

Here are the raw numbers, the PPP analysis follows:

The Democratic nomination at this point is Hillary Clinton’s for the taking if she wants it. She has an amazing 86/10 favorability rating with Democratic voters. In a dream field Clinton gets 57% to 14 for Joe Biden, 6% for Elizabeth Warren, 5% for Andrew Cuomo, 3% for Russ Feingold, 2% for Mark Warner, and 1% each for Martin O’Malley and Brian Schweitzer.

Clinton’s appeal to the various different constituencies of the Democratic Party is pretty universal. She’s at 58% with ‘very liberal’ voters, 56% with moderates, 60% with women, 52% with men, 59% with whites, 54% with African Americans, 51% with Hispanics, 64% with seniors, and 44% with young voters.

If Clinton didn’t run but Biden did he’d be the leader with 32% to 18% for Cuomo, 8% for Warren, 6% for Feingold, 2% each for O’Malley and Warner, and 1% for Schweitzer. Biden’s favorability is 70/21.

And in Biden and Clintonless field Cuomo leads with 27% to 9% for Warren, 8% for Feingold, 4% each for O’Malley and Warner, and 2% for Schweitzer. Cuomo is the only candidate in that version of the field with better than 50% name recognition, boasting a 32/24 favorability rating. Feingold and Warren each have about 45% name recognition while O’Malley, Warner, and Schweitzer are all pretty much completely unknown.

We also looked at the 2016 Republican field if Romney is not the nominee again. There’s a clear top tier consisting of Chris Christie at 21% and Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush at 17%. Rick Santorum’s further back at 12% and Marco Rubio at 10%, Paul Ryan at 7%, Rand Paul at 4%, and Bobby Jindal at 3% round out the names we tested. It seems unlikely Santorum would be the front runner in a repeat bid.

Other notes on those numbers:

-Bush is the only Republican with a greater than 70% favorability rating, at 71/13.

-Most of the big potential GOP 2016 names have more than 50% name recognition- there are a lot more known quantities in the mix for Republicans that cycle than there are for the Democrats.

-GOP voters clearly see Rand Paul, who has a solid 42/20 favorability rating, in a different light than his dad, who’s at 36/49.

-Huckabee is the most popular potential 2016 hopeful besides Bush with a 69/15 favorability rating and would start out with an edge among Evangelicals at 24% to 16% for Santorum.

-Christie has a double digit lead with voters under 45, a group the GOP’s had trouble appealing to over the last few election cycles.

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