This, of course, depends on your definition of hot. Quinnipiac’s poll today takes the political temperature of presumed 2016 presidential contenders without actually measuring support for their potential bids. The top two contenders don’t exactly surprise, but the story changes when looking at the intraparty results:
New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are the hottest politicians on today’s Quinnipiac University Thermometer of voter attitudes toward the nation’s major political figures. The four lowest scores went to the congressional leaders of both parties. A surprise third place on the Thermometer goes to newly-elected Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, although 51 percent of voters don’t know enough about her to rate her.
Christie, at 53.1 degrees on the Thermometer, Clinton, at 52.1 degrees, and Warren, at 49.2 degrees, are hotter than President Barack Obama, at 47.6 degrees, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. In another surprise, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand matches Obama’s heat with 47.6 degrees, although 75 percent of voters don’t know enough about her to take her temperature.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas scores 46.8 degrees, with 60 percent offering no opinion.
The ratings scale seems to follow in general the amount of press people get for their 2016 prospects. Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie get the most attention, so it’s not exactly surprising to see them get the highest ratings on the scale. Their relative closeness to the rest of the pack is the bigger takeaway. Ted Cruz is just six-plus points back from Christie, five-plus back from Hillary, and almost as hot at the President of the United States? The first-term Senator from Texas has to be pleased by that measurement.
That changes when looking at the intraparty results, however, and dramatically on the GOP side. Hillary still tops the chart with Democrats at 77.7%, eight points above Joe Biden and 12 above Warren. Andrew Cuomo gets a tepid 55%, while Maryland governor Martin O’Malley kicks off his 2016 bid at 53.7%. Among Republicans, though, Christie doesn’t finish with the gold medal — and in fact doesn’t even come close:
Christie drops to eighth place, well off the place set by Cruz and Marco Rubio, whose popularity hasn’t dimmed much. Among Republicans, Christie falls behind Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, and only barely surpasses Bobby Jindal. Jindal and Santorum have barely been in the news at all of late, although Santorum did say yesterday that he’s “open” to a 2016 run. Assuming all or even some of these Republicans toss their hats in the ring for 2016’s nomination, Christie is hardly a “hot” candidate at all.
Of the group ahead of Christie, keep an eye on Scott Walker, who also gets little press these days. Assuming he wins his re-election bid — and 2014 should be a good year for Republicans — Walker will have six years at the helm of a state, with real conservative reform on his resumé and a strong connection to the Midwest that will only help in Iowa. Republicans looking for conservative executive accomplishment in their next candidate will naturally gravitate toward either Walker or Jindal rather than Christie or Bush.