Poll: Clinton has best chance if Trump runs as independent
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE is leading several top GOP candidates in hypothetical general election match-ups, but she narrowly trails Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration MORE (R-Fla.), a new national poll finds. 

A new Public Policy Polling survey found that Clinton bests Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE, 46 percent to 43 percent; beats former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 44 percent to 39 percent; and defeats Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE (R-Texas), 45 percent to 43 percent. Clinton ties retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 45 percent. 

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But Clinton falls behind Rubio in a close match-up, trailing him by 1 point. 

“Our polling — both nationally and in swing states — is pointing to a close general election for President next year,” Dean Debnam, president of the liberal leaning Public Policy Polling, said in a release.

“A lot of Democrats assume that if the Republicans nominate Cruz or Trump it will be an easy victory but they should be careful about overconfidence — Hillary Clinton finds herself in a tight race even against that pair.” 

If Trump decides to break his pledge to remain with the GOP and launches a third party run, the real estate mogul complicates the path to victory even more for Republicans. The poll shows that Trump receives 24 percent if he runs as an independent, boosting Clinton past Rubio, 41 percent to 27 percent. 

Trump also gets 23 percent in a three-candidate match-up with Clinton and Cruz, with the former secretary of State now leading the Texas senator, 42 percent to 26 percent.

The poll was conducted from Dec. 16 to 17 and surveyed 1,267 registered voters via phones and Internet. The margin of error was 2.8 percentage points.