A new poll released yesterday from Quinnipiac University shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead nationally over most of the major potential Republican candidates in the 2016 presidential election. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush comes the closest to Clinton in the poll, trailing by three points. The poll also shows some narrowing of the gap between Clinton and the Republican candidates, as documented below. The following is an in-depth breakdown of the Quinnipiac poll. For more polling updates up through 2016 presidential election follow this page on Twitter, Facebook, or subscribe through the link on the left.
The Overall Numbers
- Hillary Clinton (46 percent) versus Gov. Chris Christie (39 percent)
- Hillary Clinton (47 percent) versus Sen. Rand Paul (41 percent)
- Hillary Clinton (45 percent) versus fmr. Gov. Jeb Bush (42 percent)
- Hillary Clinton (48 percent) versus Gov. Scott Walker (49 percent)
- Hillary Clinton (47 percent) versus fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee (40 percent)
- Hillary Clinton (46 percent) versus Sen. Marco Rubio (41 percent)
- Hillary Clinton (48 percent) versus Sen. Ted Cruz (38 percent)
What the Poll Means
While these margins may seem small, in presidential races a lead of merely a few points can equal large electoral victories. In 2012 President Obama won the popular votes versus Mitt Romney by only three points, Obama 51.01 percent to 47.15 percent for Mitt Romney, but won the Electoral College by a 332-206 margin over Romney.
Of course, a President is elected by winning enough states to obtain 270 Electoral College votes. It is rare, but occasionally a candidate will win the popular vote by a small margin while simultaneously losing the Electoral College vote – the most recent example being Al Gore in 2000, but in that case Gore lost the popular vote by less than one percentage point.
The good news for Republicans is that there are still 613 days until the election, which gives them plenty of time to raise their own numbers while also trying to bring Clinton’s numbers down.
The second piece of good news for Republicans is that Clinton never gets above the 50 percent mark in the Quinnipiac poll, which suggests that Republicans could get closer by winning over the remaining undecided voters.
Finally, the Quinnipiac poll shows a general tightening of the race between Clinton and Republican candidates. Earlier polls have shown Clinton winning by larger margin, sometimes double digits, over any Republican challenger.
The good news for Democrats is that Clinton has not even begun her campaign while others, like Jeb Bush, are now in full campaign mode. This means that Clinton is essentially winning the presidential race before she even starts running.
Comparison to Other Polls
The Quinnipiac poll shows a much tighter race between Clinton and the Republican candidates compared to other polls. A Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Clinton with a 10.2 point lead against Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a 9.8 point lead against Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), a 7.3 point lead versus Gov. Scott Walker, a 9.0 point lead against fmr Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), a 13.5 point lead against fmr. Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), a 14.5 point lead against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and an 10.0 point lead against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
In fact, every national poll released since December from seven different polling organization all show Clinton leading all major potential Republican candidates by at least three points, often more.
Every poll is ultimately based on a sampling of potential voters. A number of factors can influence the poll’s accuracy such as sample size and composition
In this poll Quinnipiac surveyed 1,286 registered voters. Quinnipiac called both land line and cell phone users.
Of the poll’s respondents, 32 percent identified themselves as Republican and 29 percent identified themselves as Democrats. The smallest group, 28 percent, identified themselves as independents. These party identification breakdowns likely gives too little weight to the strength of Democrats. A CNN exit poll in 2012 found that 38 percent of the state’s vote identified as Democratic, with 32 percent identifying as Republican and 29 percent as independents. This suggest that Clinton might actually be performing better than is evidenced in the Quinnipiac poll.
In his 2012 ratings Nate Silver found Quinnipiac to be an average pollster in terms of accuracy. In the 2012 presidential race Quinnipiac had an average error rate of 2.3 points, and showed a very slight bias for Democratic candidates by 0.3 points.