2016: Hillary 44, Christie 42

This poll won’t matter three years from now when we find ourselves caught up in an epic Stan McChyrstal vs. Mike Huckabee battle for the soul of America, but for now it’s a fun time-waster on a painfully slow news day.

Two overrated media darlings enter, one overrated media darling leaves:

57% of Democrats would like Clinton to be their candidate in 2016. Only Joe Biden at 16% also hits double digits. Beyond them it’s Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren at 4%, Martin O’Malley at 3%, Deval Patrick and Mark Warner at 2%, and Kirsten Gillibrand and Brian Schweitzer at 1%…

The most epic possible 2016 match up at this early point would be between Clinton and Chris Christie. She leads him just 44-42. But our poll indicates getting the Republican nomination could prove to be quite a challenge for Christie. Right now Rubio leads the GOP field with 21% to 16% for Ryan, 15% for Mike Huckabee, 14% for Christie and Bush, 5% for Rand Paul, 3% for Bobby Jindal, and 2% each for Susana Martinez and Rick Perry.

The independent streak that makes Christie such a strong potential general election candidate also hurts him with GOP primary voters. His +15 net favorability rating at 44/29 is the weakest of any of the Republicans within the party base except for Martinez, who’s relatively unknown, and Perry whose disastrous 2012 bid for the office has left him with mediocre numbers.

Christie polls at 32% among moderate Republicans as their top choice for the office in 2016…but at only 4% among voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’

Neither Jeb, Ryan, nor Rubio polls within 10 points of Clinton. Christie trails by just two. Why? Because it wasn’t just Republicans who noticed his ostentatious, camera-ready display of bipartisanship with The One a few days before the election. He’s actually more popular with Democrats now than he is with Republicans:

PPP polled the favorable ratings of 18 different prominent national pols. Not only was Christie’s +28 spread the most positive of any of them — even the famously popular Hillary Clinton managed just +15 — but only five managed a net positive rating overall. It’s not just centrist Democrats who are boosting him up either, and it’s not just whites:

The only other Republican polled who had net-positive favorables among black voters was Susana Martinez, and she was only +9. Head to head with Hillary, Christie pulls 19% of African-Americans. (Interestingly, despite a favorable rating among that same demographic of 20/55, Jeb Bush pulls 22%.) I take it this is all ephemeral, that he’s riding a wave of goodwill among Democrats right now due to his Sandy visibility and that it’ll all go away sooner rather than later, especially if Hillary decides not to run and the media switches into “stop Christie now” mode. But if he does run in 2016, stuff like this will be his biggest selling point in the primaries. The lesson of the last two elections is that most Republicans really, really prize alleged “electability,” even at the expense of conservative bona fides. You’d think they’d be ready to gamble on someone more ideological after McCain and Romney washed out, but I don’t know. Some may reason that the big problem with Maverick and Mitt is that they weren’t “electable” enough, and that in a country that seems to be turning bluer the obvious solution is to nominate a guy who won twice in a deep blue state and whom blue voters nationally already know and like. The problem for Christie is that Rubio’s an impressive enough retail politician in his own right that GOPers on the fence might opt for him on the theory that they’d only be sacrificing a little electability in return for a lot more reassurance on principle. Hard to see the big man getting through the primary, but the more he can sustain numbers like this, the more he and Moneybags Mike Bloomberg might decide that a third-party independent bid isn’t a hopeless cause after all.