By Justin Sink
A pair of new polls released this week predict that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be the odds-on favorite in Pennsylvania's 2016 presidential contest. Republicans have said they hope to make the state more competitive in future presidential contests after losing its 20 electoral votes in 2012.
Both Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, and Quinnipiac University polled the state over the past week, asking voters their preferences in hypothetical presidential match-ups. In both instances, Clinton led any Republican contender she was put up against.
In the Qunnipiac survey, Clinton led New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 47 percent to 42 percent, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) 55 percent to 38 percent, and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) 54 percent to 36 percent. In the PPP survey, Clinton led Ryan 52 percent to 40 percent, Rubio 52 percent to 37 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) 55 percent to 38 percent.
But there are signs of optimism for Republicans if Clinton opts against running. In the Quinnipiac survey, Christie led Vice President Biden 51 percent to 38 percent and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo 53 percent to 32 percent. The vice president and New York governor both defeated Ryan and Rubio in hypothetical match-ups.
The state appears to have a strong affinity for Christie, who maintains the nation's highest popularity rating in neighboring New Jersey. In the PPP poll, Christie was the top choice of Pennsylvania Republicans with 20 percent; Rubio and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) each earned 17 percent of potential primary voters, while Santorum and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush each received 10 percent. No other Republican candidate cracked double digits.
"Former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is keeping her future plans to herself, but if those plans include another run for the White House, she starts in a good position in Pennsylvania," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.
"And if Ms. Clinton doesn't go for it, Pennsylvania voters can look across the Delaware River at another contender, New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie. Another neighbor, Vice President Joseph Biden, a native of Scranton and former Delaware senator, doesn't do nearly as well as Clinton or Christie."