Clinton takes Iowa lead in 2016 presidential matchup

But turnaround may not be Clinton's own doing, pollster says

James Q. Lynch
Published: March 13 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:32 am in

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has turned around her potential political fortunes in Iowa, according to a presidential preference poll released Thursday morning.

The former first lady, who is being encouraged to make another White House run in 2016, leads Gov. Chris Christie 48 to 35 percent in a hypothetical matchup, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll of 1,411 registered voters in Iowa. That reverses the New Jersey governor’s 48 to 45 percent lead in a December Quinnipiac poll.

Clinton’s turnaround may not be her own doing, however.

“Who said, ‘All politics is local?’” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll. “Secretary Clinton is benefitting from the fallout after a traffic jam a thousand miles away.

“When Quinnipiac University surveyed Iowans last December, Christie was the lead reindeer,” Brown said. “But after the coverage of the George Washington Bridge lane closures, his nose is not so bright. Like the other GOP hopefuls, he now trails Clinton by double digits.”

She has a 49 to 39 percent lead over Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 51 to 35 percent over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and 51 to 37 percent over former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.

Clinton doesn’t seem to be hurt by President Barack Obama’s low approval rating, Quinnipiac found. Obama gets a negative 39 to 57 percent approval rating in Iowa, compared to a negative 38 to 59 percent rating inDecember.

“Politics is a team sport and the head of the blue team, President Barack Obama, isn’t doing well in the eyes of Iowans,” Brown said. “But that doesn’t seem to be hurting teammate Hillary Clinton who swamps potential 2016 Republican competitors among the same electorate.”

“So much -- at least for now -- for the conventional wisdom that as the president’s popularity goes, so goes Democratic hopes for 2016,” Brown added.

Clinton appears to have benefited by a shift among independent voters shift from 44 to 35 percent for Christie in December to 46 to 32 percent for her today. Clinton has leads of 12 to 22 percentage points among independent voters in the other matchups.

By a 55 to 38 percent margin, Iowans say Clinton would make a good president, the only listed candidate to get a positive score.

Christie’s numbers flip-flopped from 46 to 30 percent of Iowans saying he would make a good president in December to 41 to 36 percent saying he would not.

The poll, conducted March 5-10 by live interviewers call land lines and cell phones, has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points.

For more information, visit http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.

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