CNN released the results of their latest 2016 presidential poll (ORC International; Nov. 18-20; 843 adults; 595 landline respondents; 248 via cellphone) during the Thanksgiving break, but their methodology leaves much to be desired, hence the conclusions are unreliable.
As we know, contemporary polls conducted on a national basis for a series of nomination elections that will occur more than two years into the future are merely for news consumption and have little real political value. Furthermore, polling “adults” as opposed to registered or likely voters yields even less reliability.
That being said, the data gives both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton (D) clear leads for their respective party nominations.
According to CNN/ORC, Christie leads the GOP field of potential candidates with 24 percent support from the poll respondents. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is second with 13 percent; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1), the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, follows at 11 percent, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the final potential contender in double-digits with 10 percent. The remainder of the field lists in the following order: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) nine percent; Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) seven percent; while former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) are tied with six percent apiece.
On the Democratic side, Clinton holds a commanding 63-12 percent advantage over Vice President Joe Biden, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) next in line at seven percent; New York Gov. Anthony Cuomo tallies five percent, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is even further behind with two percent. If the former Secretary of State and New York senator is not included as a candidate, the vice president then tops the field at 43 percent, followed by Warren at 17 percent, with Cuomo posting 15 percent, and O’Malley registering six percent.
Polls such as this are merely beauty contests, even when the methodology is sound. As we know, the nominations are determined from votes within individual states, governed by party rules that differ widely between the Democrats and Republicans. At no time will these candidates face each other on a national primary ballot.
While Gov. Christie may enjoy high name identification, a strong favorability rating, and a national news media that seems willing to promote him, his prospects of actually securing the Republican nomination are faint. Having to clear strongly conservative early nominating electorates in places like Iowa and South Carolina suggests that traversing his path to victory will be onerous, because he will find it difficult to generate the early momentum that has proven so necessary to securing a presidential nomination.
Possibly the one definable insight that this CNN/ORC poll presents is Vice President Biden’s weakness within his own party. Against Clinton, the sitting VP fails to reach even the 15 percent support plateau among the respondents claiming to be Democrats or Independents who lean Democratic. Even without her running, Biden comes nowhere near obtaining even bare majority allegiance against potential opponents who possess far less name identification. This tells us that, at least within the present context, the Vice President has virtually no chance of securing the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Count on seeing more national primary polls for the foreseeable future, but don’t put much stock in any of them for they test a political format that simply has no relevance.