Would Hillary Clinton make a good president? Would Chris Christie? Or Ted Cruz? The latest Fox News poll asks just that about a handful of potential 2016 candidates.
The biggest takeaways: Former Secretary of State Clinton continues to outperform potential rivals and the number saying New Jersey Gov. Christie would not excel in the White House has increased dramatically.
Last year, by a narrow four percentage-point margin, voters said yes, Christie would make a good president. The new poll, released Wednesday, finds just over half -- 52 percent -- do not think so now. That’s more than twice the 24 percent who think he would be a good commander-in-chief.
Christie has been hit by a storm of national news stories about members of his staff ordering up George Washington Bridge lane closures -- allegedly as political payback.
The poll finds voters across the board -- Republicans (+21 points), independents (+17 points) and Democrats (+16 points) -- are now more likely to say he wouldn’t be a good president.
Voters have mixed feelings about Clinton occupying the oval office: 50 percent believe she would be good, while 47 percent disagree. She also has lost ground: last year, voters said she would make a good president by a 13-point margin.
Despite this dip in enthusiasm, Clinton still tops Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (28 percent think he would make a good president), Vice President Joe Biden (28 percent), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (24 percent), Christie (24 percent), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (20 percent).
Paul has a slight edge among Republicans: 47 percent think he would make a good president. He is closely followed by Bush (45 percent) and Rubio (43 percent). Less than four in 10 Republicans think Cruz (38 percent) and Christie (34 percent) would be good.
Among voters who are part of the tea party movement, Paul (58 percent), Cruz (55 percent) and Rubio (52 percent) garner more than 50 percent backing.
Democrats are much more likely to say Clinton (83 percent) would be good than to say the same about Biden (49 percent).
Clinton’s backing among Democrats is significantly higher than Paul’s, the top Republican, is among his party (by 36 percentage points).
Of the figures tested, Clinton captures the largest number of independents saying she would make a good president (42 percent). Yet a 54-percent majority thinks she wouldn’t be good.
Overall, about a third say they have never heard of Rubio and about a quarter say the same of Cruz, which makes them the least familiar names to voters.
Too-early head-to-head matchups
If the 2016 presidential election “were held today,” which it clearly won’t be, Clinton would top Christie by 11 points, Bush by 13 points and Cruz by 16 points. These are potential candidates who have not announced their candidacy.
Meanwhile, more voters think the bridge controversy will hurt a Christie White House run (70 percent) than think Benghazi would hurt a Clinton campaign (62 percent).
Republicans (82 percent) are much more likely than independents (56 percent) and Democrats (48 percent) to think the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which happened while Clinton was head of the state department, will damage her if she runs.
The majorities of Democrats (76 percent), Republicans (67 percent) and independents (64 percent) who believe the bridge controversy will hurt Christie are much more closely aligned.
Voters are more than three times as likely to think Clinton’s time as first lady will help rather than hurt her campaign if she decides to run (67-21 percent).
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,002 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 2 to March 4, 2014. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for the total sample.