Poll: GOP primary, Clinton match-up could be tough for Christie

In a hypothetical 2016 presidential match-up of Hillary Clinton (D) versus New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), the former secretary of State would likely defeat the popular governor.

Forty-four percent of respondents said they would support Clinton, while 34 percent would back Christie, according to an NBC News poll released Tuesday. The remaining voters say they’d prefer another candidate, wouldn’t vote or are undecided.

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The poll confirms what other recent surveys have shown if Clinton and Christie become their parties’ nominees.

Christie coasted to reelection last week, winning in a landslide. He’s been vocal about probably running for the White House in the next cycle. If he does, a majority of Northeast Republicans, 57 percent, say they would support Christie in the presidential primary, according to the poll.

The governor, however, may have a tougher time winning over GOP voters nationwide. The poll found 32 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning respondents say they would vote for Christie in a primary while 31 percent say they would prefer another presidential candidate.

“Naming just Christie divides the faithful equally into Christie, Not Christie and Don’t Know,” said G. Evans Witt, chief executive of Princeton Survey Research, which conducted the poll. “A third of the vote is not a bad showing in a party primary with [potentially] 10 candidates, but the first primary is more than two years away.”

In the Midwest, 35 percent would back Christie in a primary. Twenty-nine percent would support him in the South. In the West, Christie would receive 40 percent support.  

Clinton, by contrast, would likely easily clinch the Democratic nomination if she runs. The poll found 66 percent of Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters say they’d back Clinton in a primary. Fourteen percent say they’d vote for another candidate.

In addition to a battle against Clinton, Christie would also have to deal with the GOP’s internal rifts — straddling the establishment and the Tea Party bases.