It is commonly believed that the path to the White House travels through big swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If so, former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton is in strong shape less than two years before the next presidential vote.
Quinnipiac University went into the field to test the general electorates in these three critical places and found Clinton doing very well against the tested Republican candidates. The results, though too early to be a relevant predictor of any actual voting trend in November of 2016, provide us at least two important indicators.
First, the poll tells us that Clinton’s early low-key approach to this campaign is working. She has deliberately delayed forming a presidential committee, and kept a very low public profile. The Q-Poll results tell us that, so far, such a strategic move is paying dividends.
Second, it again confirms that Republicans are performing poorly in these three presidential battleground states (President Obama carried the trio in both of his campaigns) even though they have basically dominated elections for other offices. The GOP controls all six legislative houses in the tested states, all three congressional delegations, three of six US Senate seats, while holding two governors’ positions having just lost Pennsylvania last November. Yet, Clinton enjoys aggregate double-digit leads against most of the GOP field.
Quinnipiac tested former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), ex-presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is now out of the contest, and former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. They added Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in Florida, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) for Ohio, and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) only for Pennsylvania. Rubio trails Clinton 39-49 percent in the Sunshine State, while she blows out Santorum in Pennsylvania, 54-34 percent.
In all D vs. R configurations except two, Clinton leads between 10 and 20 points. In Florida, Bush trails the former First Lady by only a 44-43 percent split. Gov. Kasich, in his home state of Ohio, lags by the exact same count.
The Republican candidates’ particular problem is their poor favorability ratings. Bush dips into negative numbers in each place except Florida where he scores a 46:38 percent favorable to unfavorable rating. This compares to his 26:37 percent in Ohio, and 30:38 percent in Pennsylvania.
New Jersey’s Christie is negative across the board, even in neighboring Pennsylvania, where he scores a disappointing 36:43 percent. His other numbers are 28:41 percent (FL) and 25:36 percent (OH), which must be considered poor.
Sen. Paul has the best numbers of any Republican tested, scoring in positive numbers in two of the three places: 30:25 percent (FL) and 27:25 percent (OH), against a slightly upside down 29:30 percent (PA). But, even these ratings are tepid suggesting that the GOP candidates have work to do in building a strong enough positive image to successfully oppose Clinton.
The candidate who presently appears to be gathering strong momentum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, was not included on the Q-Poll questionnaires. Walker took the lead in two polls during the past week, one in Iowa and the other for North Carolina. The Q-Poll information also helps him, since he can use the data to portray almost all of his prospective opponents as faring poorly against Clinton.