For Republicans, a new poll shows there may be a crack in the armor of anticipated Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Clinton leads all 2016 polls, but Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie performs the best of all top GOP perspective candidates in a head-to-head race with Clinton, and even bests her in 'leaning' states, according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday. Clinton still tops Christie overall, leading him 43 percent to 39 percent.
The former secretary of state trounces Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in one-on-one match-ups in what are considered 'swing' states, such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia – leading each between 7 percent and 9 percent. But Christie does much better in 'leaning' states, such as Minnesota, Georgia and Arizona, edging out Clinton by 2 percent, while Bush and Rubio trail her by 17 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
For perspective, in the 2012 election, President Barack Obama won nine out of the 10 'swing' states while Republican nominee Mitt Romney won six of the 10 'leaning' states.
"Chris Christie appears strong everywhere but in the swing states, which means that any Republican running against Hillary Clinton would still have a tough path to 270 Electoral College votes," said Patrick Murray, director of the New Jersey-based Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a memo accompanying the poll results.
The disparity between Clinton and her potential GOP opponents could also be the result of a lack of name recognition, giving them room to grow as the 2016 buzz builds.
The poll also asked voters to list the top positive and negative attributes that came to mind when hearing potential candidates names – Clinton was most often described as intelligent and strong, but also dishonest; Christie was honest, straightforward but opportunist; and Bush was likable but dishonest.
The poll surveyed 850 registered voters from June 25 to June 30 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.