Gov. Chris Christie needs to do more to stand out among other Republicans who potentially have their sights set on the party's 2016 presidential nomination, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll released Thursday morning.
Though the poll found that Christie is the front-runner among Republicans, with 18 percent support from party voters, other potential candidates are not far behind, with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 15 percent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 14 percent and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio at 11 percent.
The only possible Republican candidate that Christie is posting a considerable lead over, according to the poll, is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who comes in at 5 percent.
If Christie wants to extend his lead, he's going to have to do a better job of corralling support from more conservative Republicans and Tea Party members, poll numbers show. Fifteen percent of Republicans who identify as having a favorable view of the Tea Party support Christie — a stark contrast with the 21 percent belonging to Cruz. Those Republicans who simply identify as conservatives tend to also prefer Cruz, with 18 percent supporting him, compared to Christie's 13 percent.
Moderate Republicans appear to be Christie's base, the poll found, as he takes 30 percent of the vote among them compared to the next possible challenger, Paul, who comes in at 17 percent.
"Christie's lead among Republicans doesn't necessarily translate into an easy time in the primaries," poll director and university professor Krista Jenkins said in the report. "Conservatives and Tea Partiers are the most likely voters in the primaries, and he'll need to do better among them if he wants the nomination."
For Democrats, the poll found that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to hold a wide lead over the rest of the pack, with 63 percent support among party voters. The next possible challenger, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, comes in at 9 percent support, and trailing even further are Vice President Joe Biden at 5 percent and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at 1 percent.
Jenkins said that, compared to the last time the poll looked at 2016 partisan favorites in April, the "landscape hasn't changed much." She added that while Rubio then held a lead of four percentage points over Christie, Clinton had basically the same amount of support from her party.
"Right now, it's a name recognition game, with Clinton maintaining her clear edge over others and regional leaders in the Republican Party trying hard to be recognized outside their native soil," Jenkins said.
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