Poll: Clinton has best chance if Trump runs as independent
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Van Jones: A 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' can pose a greater threat to black Americans than the KKK Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: 'You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?' MORE is leading several top GOP candidates in hypothetical general election match-ups, but she narrowly trails Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Trump administration designates B of PPP funds for community lenders The Memo: Trump's Scarborough tweets unsettle his allies 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 TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE, 46 percent to 43 percent; beats former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 44 percent to 39 percent; and defeats Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP deeply divided over Trump's social media crackdown Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged Iranian sanction violations 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.