New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is Republicans' best hope to capture the White House in 2016 if Hillary Clinton decides to run for president, according to a new poll.
A Public Policy Polling survey finds Clinton and Christie in a virtual tie in a hypothetical race, with the outgoing secretary of state edging the gregarious governor 44 percent to 42 percent, within the poll's margin of error.
Clinton leads all other Republican contenders by double digits, beating former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, 53-39, and both Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 51-37.
The poll also found Clinton to be favored among Democrats in the party's primary, receiving support from 57 percent of Democratic primary voters. Vice President Joe Biden comes second with 16 percent while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo received only four percent.
The numbers come only days after Cuomo delivered an impassioned State of the State speech on Wednesday in which he played to the liberal-base of his party by calling for severely stricter gun laws in light of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
If Clinton and Biden decide not to run, Cuomo's chances improve significantly. Without them in the race, Cuomo received support from 19 percent of Democratic primary voters.
One question is whether Christie would be able to win over enough conservatives to move beyond the Republican primaries.
"The independent streak that makes Christie such a strong potential general-election candidate also hurts him with GOP primary voters," warns the PPP analysis.
Rubio, a tea party favorite, currently leads within the GOP field with support from 21 percent of Republican primary voters. Ryan comes in second with 16 percent, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee gets 15 percent.
If the primary were held today, Christie and Jeb Bush would each get 14 percent of the primary vote, according to the PPP poll, with the New Jersey governor receiving support from only 4 percent of voters who consider themselves "very conservative."
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