President Obama carried the states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2012 when he beat GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Since 1960 no candidate has won the White House without carrying at least two of those three critical swing states.
So it may be some comfort to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she ponders a run for the 2016 Democratic nomination that a new survey shows her trouncing many potential GOP rivals in hypothetical matchups in all three states.
Clinton’s favorability ratings exceed 50 percent in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to the Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll out Tuesday. Meanwhile the ratings of many prominent Republicans range from “negative to mixed to slightly positive,” according to the pollsters.
The major exceptions are when Clinton is pitted against Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. In those cases, she’s in a statistical dead heat with the two men in their respective home states.
Clinton reportedly is considering putting off an announcement on whether she’ll enter the race until later this year, while more than a dozen serious Republican contenders may be launching campaigns.
“There is a reason Hillary Clinton has followed a slower, less aggressive schedule when it comes to ramping up her expected presidential campaign than have virtually all of her potential White House opponents,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement. “She holds double-digit leads over all her potential GOP opponents in the three biggest swing states, except for two native sons . . . And she is under little pressure from within her own party to hit the campaign trail."
University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said that at most, surveys done in February 2015 could be used as benchmarks to gauge future developments. “Maybe Hillary can use the polls to raise money from donors now,” he said on Tuesday. “Candidates always like to create a sense of inevitability—telling contributors to get on the train before it leaves the station.”
Last week’s announcement by Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, that he won’t seek the GOP nomination touched off a scramble by Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other prospects to line up support from deep-pocketed donors. Many of these donors had backed Romney in his unsuccessful 2012 campaign against President Obama, The New York Times reported.
Others thought to be in the running for backing from wealthy donors include Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who created a lot of buzz at a recent conservative Republican gathering in Iowa.
Walker gained notoriety for combating state employees and union leaders over budgets and pensions and then survived a recall election. He leads a large field of potential contenders with 15 percent of likely Republican Iowa caucus goers in a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll.
For now, Hillary Clinton looks formidable in the polls. She would begin a campaign in very solid shape with Democratic voters, as well as some independents and Republicans. What’s more, young people planning to vote in 2016 lean overwhelmingly in support of her, according to Fusion’s Massive Millennial Poll, which surveyed 1000 people ages 18-34 about everything from politics to dating to race issues.
More than half, or 57 percent, of the Democrats surveyed prefer Clinton, compared with 10 percent who choose Vice President Joe Biden and another 10 percent who want Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. At 19 percent, a large chunk are still undecided.
In Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Clinton is favored by 86 percent to 93 percent of Democrats, 36 percent to 54 percent of independent voters, and as many as 15 percent of Republicans.
Clinton also leads the other candidates among women by margins of nine percent to 31 percentage points, according to the Quinnipiac survey. Men are more evenly divided between her and other presidential aspirants.
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