If the 2016 presidential election were held tomorrow, it’s all but a certainty that Hillary Clinton would walk away the winner, at least in Iowa, often considered a key swing state.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, the former secretary of state-senator-first lady holds a two-digit lead over every Republican contender for the 2016 election. In December, the group found that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a 45-40 percent lead over Clinton, but after the fallout from the George Washington Bridge scandal, the tables have turned, leaving Clinton with a 48-35 percent lead.
Clinton also handily defeated every other prominent Republican considering a 2016 run. She held a 49-39 percent lead over Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and a 51-37 percent lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Clinton’s biggest lead comes over Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whom she soundly defeated 51-35 percent.
Clinton’s numbers are impressive, but her turnaround against Christie is the most interesting aspect of the story. While Christie posed a serious threat to Clinton only a few months ago, he’s suddenly nowhere near as attractive to Iowa voters. According to Quinnipiac pollsters, the shift can mostly be traced to Christie’s involvement (to an extent not yet known) in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
"Who said, 'All politics is local?' Secretary Clinton is benefiting from the fallout after a traffic jam a thousand miles away," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said in a statement. "When Quinnipiac University surveyed Iowans last December, Gov. Christopher Christie was the lead reindeer. But after the coverage of the George Washington Bridge lane closures, his nose is not so bright. Like the other GOP hopefuls, he now trails Clinton by double digits."
As impressive as Clinton’s poll numbers are, though, Iowans aren’t exactly in love with every Democrat out there. President Barack Obama -- who broke through in the 2008 Iowa caucuses -- polled incredibly low, earning only a 38 percent approval rating from Iowans. Fifty-nine percent, meanwhile, disapprove of the president. Antipathy toward Obama was unsurprisingly at an all-time high among Republicans, who offered a shockingly negative 5-93 percent disapproval rate. Iowa has gone Democratic in every presidential election since 1988, with the exception of 2004, but often by narrow margins.
Obama’s poor performance only highlights how spectacular Clinton’s performance with Iowans is. It’s easy to expect that Obama’s poor performance could lead to a turn against the Democratic Party as a whole, but many voters seem to enthusiastically support Clinton as a viable alternative to the problems facing Obama’s administration.
Of course, all of this could change in the coming two years, but for right now, it’s Clinton’s game to lose.