Chris Christie now in Clinton 2016 territory, but weak among Republicans
New Jersey governor Chris Christie is the only Republican who comes close to Hillary Clinton in a new national survey on hypothetical 2016 candidates from Public Policy Polling.
Clinton wins in their imaginary head-to-head matchup, 44-42 margin.
Clinton was shown to be the most popular prospective 2016 candidate by far, in polls taken immediately after the 2012 campaign. Since then, of course, she's faced questions about the State Department's role in handling the attacks in Benghazi, and was recently hospitalized following a concussion and a blood clot in her head.
Christie, for his part, dramatically raised his standing with Democrats and independents in the weeks after Hurricane Sandy, when he embraced President Obama and praised the administration's leadership as he led the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy. He furthered that nonpartisan impression last week, with a highly public denunciation of House Speaker John Boehner for refusing to bring a Sandy relief bill to the floor of the House.
Christie gets a 51 percent approval rating in the PPP survey, with just 23 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.
He and Clinton, who enjoys 54 percent approval, are the only two candidates who crest 50 percent in the poll.
But in real life candidates have to get through primaries before they can compete in generals. And Christie's anti-partisan invectives appear to have hurt his standing within the Republican Party.
Among the current field of Republicans rumored to be interested in 2016, Christie ties for fourth, behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio with 21 percent, Paul Ryan (16 percent) and Mike Huckabee (15 percent).
Clinton beats all those challengers, with the exception of Christie, by double-digits in a head-to-head contest.
Among Democrats, 57 percent pick Clinton as their choice from the field of rumored candidates, with Joe Biden as a distant second with 16 percent.
The field is fungible beyond that. Asked who they'd like if neither Clinton nor Biden runs, the choice was Andrew Cuomo, with only 19 percent. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand came in at five percent, behind Elizabeth Warren, Martin O'Malley and Deval Patrick.
Clinton said yesterday that she doesn't consider herself to be retiring, even as she plans to exit the State Department this month.