Poll: Clinton has best chance if Trump runs as independent
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Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports MORE is leading several top GOP candidates in hypothetical general election match-ups, but she narrowly trails Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMilley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (R-Fla.), a new national poll finds. 

A new Public Policy Polling survey found that Clinton bests Republican presidential front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE, 46 percent to 43 percent; beats former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 44 percent to 39 percent; and defeats Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMore than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails 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.