Hillary Clinton and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., may be their respective parties' strongest candidates in 2016, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University - the former Secretary of State and New York senator easily dispatches three Republicans in hypothetical matchups, and Christie tops every Democrat included except Clinton.
In a head-to-head race, Clinton would edge out Christie 45 to 37 percent, and her lead over the other two Republicans polled is even greater - she beats Florida Sen. Marco Rubio 50 to 34 percent and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan 50 to 38 percent.
"She obviously is by far the best known and her more than 20 years in the public spotlight allows her to create a very favorable impression on the American people. But it is worth noting that she had very good poll numbers in 2006 looking toward the 2008 election, before she faced a relative unknown in Barack Obama," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The other two Democrats included - Vice President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo - do not poll nearly as well. Biden is aced out by Christie 43 to 40 percent, but he outperforms Rubio (45 to 38 percent) and Ryan (45 to 42 percent.)
Cuomo, who is not as well known nationally as Clinton or Biden, fares particularly poorly: he would be trounced, 45 to 28 percent, by Christie, while losing to Ryan by a smaller margin (42 to 37 percent) and tying Rubio at 37 percent apiece.
Quinnipiac's poll, which surveyed 1,944 registered voters between February 27 and March 4 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent, did not pit any of the contenders against one another in a primary matchup, making it difficult to assess which two candidates would stand the best chance of actually making one of these hypothetical races real.
Both Rubio and Ryan are slated to speak at next week's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., a gathering of rising stars and longtime luminaries in the conservative movement. Christie, on the other hand, was not invited, leading some to speculate that the governor's independent streak and occasional blasphemies have soured certain conservative elements on the popular northeastern Republican.