2016 Poll: Christie edges out Clinton in Iowa

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Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie

WASHINGTON (CNN) — It’s arguably the most important state in the race for the White House.

And a new poll suggests that if the 2016 presidential election were held today, Republican Chris Christie would narrowly top Democrat Hillary Clinton in the crucial swing state of Iowa.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday, 45% of registered voters in the Hawkeye State say they would back Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, if he were the GOP presidential nominee, with 40% saying they would support Clinton, the former Secretary of State and Senator from New York, if she were the Democratic party’s nominee. Christie’s five point lead is just outside the survey’s sampling error.

Christie and Clinton were deadlocked at 41% in Quinnipiac’s July survey. Since then Christie made national headlines for his landslide re-election victory last month in New Jersey over a little known Democratic challenger.

“There is a large gender gap as women back Clinton 49%-39%, while men back Christie 51%-30%. Independent voters back the Republican 44%-35%,” according to a release from Quinnipiac University.

Iowa holds an important spot in presidential politics, as its caucuses kick off the caucus and primary calendar. But the state also plays an important role in general elections, as it’s considered an much watched swing state with six electoral votes up for grabs. George W. Bush narrowly carried the state in his 2004 re-election victory. Then Sen. Barack Obama won Iowa by 10 percentage points over Sen. John McCain in 2008. President Obama carried the state by a smaller six point margin in his 2012 re-election.

Both Christie and Clinton are mulling bids for the White House. If Clinton makes a second run for president, she would instantly be considered the overwhelming frontrunner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. And two recent national polls, from CNN/ORC International and Marist-McClatchy indicated that Christie now leads the pack of possible GOP White House hopefuls.

In other hypothetical 2016 general election matchups, the survey suggests Clinton at 45% and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 44%, Clinton topping freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas 48%-41%, and Clinton leading former two-term Florida Gov. Jeb Bush 47%-40%.

The poll indicates by a 46%-30% margin, Iowa voters say Christie would make a good president. The feel the same thing about Clinton by a 53%- 42% margin. Paul, Cruz, Bush and Vice President Joe Biden are underwater when it comes to the question of how they would perform in the Oval Office.

A Des Moines Register poll released over the weekend indicated that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the most popular of the possible GOP presidential candidates right now. Seventy-three percent of Iowa Republicans said they had a favorable opinion of the House Budget Chairman and last year’s Republican vice presidential nominee, with 2008 GOP presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 66%, 2012 Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 58%, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 55% and Christie at 51%.

Eighty-nine percent of Iowa Democrats tested in the poll said they had a favorable view of Clinton, with Biden in second place at 71%.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted Dec. 10-15, with 1,617 registered voters in Iowa questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

The Des Moines Register poll was conducted Dec. 8-11, with 650 adults in Iowa questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.