Washington (CNN) - In a potential preview of the next presidential election, a new national poll suggests Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie would be neck and neck if the 2016 contest were held today.
But a CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday also indicates Clinton leading eight other possible Republican White House hopefuls in hypothetical general election matchups.
According to the poll, 48% of registered voters say they would support support Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, if he were the GOP nominee, with 46% saying they would back Clinton, the former secretary of state, U.S. senator, and first lady, if she captured the Democratic nomination. Christie's 2-point margin is within the survey's sampling error. The CNN poll is the third non-partisan, live operator national survey conducted this month to indicate a possible matchup between Clinton and Christie basically all tied up.
If she decides to run, Clinton would instantly become the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. And Christie, fresh off his landslide re-election last month as New Jersey governor, is on top of the pack in recent polls of the race for the Republican nomination.
So what's the secret of Christie's strength against Clinton?
"He performs particularly well among independents, winning nearly six in 10 in that key group," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland siad. "He also wins a majority of suburbanites and older voters, something that no other GOP hopeful [that was] tested was able to do against Clinton."
"Christie doesn't win in the Northeast, although he does hold Clinton to a bare majority there, but he has a solid edge in the Midwest while playing Clinton to a draw in the South and West," Holland said.
Not surprisingly, the survey indicates a gender gap: Christie has a 14-point lead among men but loses women to Clinton by 10 points.
Clinton leads in other 2016 showdowns
The statistical tie between the Garden State governor and the former secretary of state is pretty remarkable compared to how Christie's potential GOP rivals do against Clinton in the CNN poll at this early stage of the game.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, loses to Clinton by eight percentage points. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky trails by 13 points. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate, is down by 15 points.
And it doesn't get any better for the GOP from there.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ran for the nomination in the last election, is down 17 points to Clinton; freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas trails by 18 points; Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rick Santorum, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate and former senator from Pennsylvania, are 19 points behind; and former two-term Florida Gov. Jeb Bush faces a 21-point gap between himself and Clinton
One thing to remember: Surveys taken this early in a presidential cycle are often heavily influenced by name recognition.
"Keep in mind that polls taken so many years before an election have little or no predictive value," Holland said.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from December 16-19, with 950 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
It is fun that for CNN a liberal with 2 points ahead is leading but a conservative is in a deadlock lol
This "poll" would be relevant if Christie got the nomination. But sorry to disappoint CNN, he won't get the nomination. GWBgate has ruined any chance of that, he's seen as a moderate by the right, plus he pulled a Charlie Crist and embraced that God-awful Obama. 2016? Ha!!!
Why are these the choices? Has been ex prez wife and a failed governor.
You might as well have Sarah Palin on the ballot along with Michelle Obama.
Don't we have higher expectations for this powerful office?
Nonsense. Clinton has been keeping a low profile since leaving government, while Christie has been actively campaigning. By the time 2016 rolls around, Christie will be down 20 points. That's assuming he hasn't been indicted in New Jersey.
Neither one of them has any chance in hell
"Keep in mind that polls taken so many years before an election have little or no predictive value," Holland said."
Except of course when the polling favors the GOP such as the earlier CNN poll. Then all hell breaks out and the right explodes in hand clapping and joyful admiration of CNN, its polling data, and its careful and insightful data collection. Yes, I know: a two year poll is not nearly as accurate as a one year poll, especially when not one of these polls taken has yet to track an "announced" candidate.
We are in a mess if these are the two best candidates.
Clinton just needs to go away.
Brilliant article. Maybe you can project the 2014 Super Bowl winner while you're at it. It's idiotic we are even discussing it at all in 2013.
As time goes by, I would imagine that Christie will go up, while Clinton will go down. Obama will only hurt Hillary's chances as time goes by.
Didn't know either one had declared as candidates.
Christie will never make it out of the GOP primaries, not extreme enough.
I just love CNN.
Powerful journalism at its very best.
If I close my eyes, this article could have been posted by MSNBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, AP, etc.
There's no news here.
I want news about Al Gore and his offshore investments and government control on Brazil.
Over 300 million Americans and this is the best we can come up with? Our nation is doomed.
This is probably our two choices for '16.
Christie would still have to win the GOP nomination.
To do so, he will have to move to the extreme right.
Hey CNN, 2014 has not even started yet. 2016 is a long ways off.
Why stop there> Who is leading whom in the presidential election of 2060? Give us a break media
President Herman Cain will find these polls fascinating.
Oh my god. Who cares???????????
I think it is way too early to say either of those cats is in the race,
how about a hypothetical 'so what' even?
I ca't believe CNN actually has this "poll" as breaking news. Are we supposed to be shocked or something. Let's just say fat boy gets the nomination, he's so bullyish and misogynistic that he'll turn off independents. You know you suck when you're a northeast governor and you lose hypothetically in the northeast.
With neither "candidate" declaring they're running this simply is an attempt by you (the media) to egg people on. Irresponsible and beneath you, CNN.
what difference does make