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Poll: Clinton, Christie basically tied in Virginia

Posted at 11:28 AM, Mar 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-03 11:28:26-05

(CNN) — A new poll in the crucial battleground state of Virginia indicates voters in the commonwealth have a more favorable view of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie than other potential GOP presidential candidates.

And if Christie were to overcome the traffic scandal that’s dogging his administration, he would be considered the best potential match against Hillary Clinton in Virginia, according to the Christopher Newport University survey released Monday.

The poll, like virtually every other survey, indicates Clinton would have a commanding lead in the Democratic primary, with 66% of Democrats and independents who lean towards the Democratic party in Virginia saying they’d vote for the former secretary of state over Vice President Joe Biden at 19%, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 7%.

On the Republican side, Christie has the highest marks among voters in terms of favorable ratings. While Clinton is the only potential contender to top 50% (with 51% saying they view her in a favorable light), Christie comes close at 46%. Among Republicans, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush follows behind at 30%.

The distance between Christie raps potential 2016 rivals at RNC summer meeting and Bush narrows, however, when voters are asked who they would vote for in the GOP primary. No potential candidate tops 20%. Christie comes in at 19% with Bush slightly behind at 18%.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican White House candidate, and 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan each get 13% support. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, comes in at 9%, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, at 7%; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, at 4%; and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin at 3%. Thirteen percent say they’re undecided.

Virginia is not considered an early primary state, but the swing state is one of the most important in the general election.

If the GOP nominates Christie, he would do the best against Clinton in the commonwealth. She would still edge him by 43%-41%, but the two percentage point margin falls within the poll’s overall sampling error, leaving them statistically tied.

If the election were held today, Paul would be the second best match against Clinton, though the Kentucky senator would still fall behind with 40% to her 47%.

The survey marks good news for Christie, who’s seen a drop in his poll numbers since a state legislative committee and the U.S. Attorney’s Office began investigating his administration in January over an alleged orchestrated traffic jam near the George Washington Bridge. The governor has denied any involvement in the scheme.

“While no Republican has as dominant a position as Clinton does right now, Chris Christie is the most formidable opponent to Clinton, and it is significant that he is able to keep Clinton’s support amongst women below 50 percent,” Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said in a release about the poll.

According to the hypothetical match-up between Clinton and Christie in Virginia, 45% of women would back the former first lady and former U.S. senator, while 38% would support Christie.

Clinton, who also has not announced whether she’ll run again for president, would surely be counting on Virginia as a key state for her campaign. She campaigned last year for the commonwealth’s new governor, Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clintons.

The Wason Center for Public Policy Survey Research Lab at Christopher Newport University conducted the survey from February 23-28 with 901 registered Virginia voters by telephone. The overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

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