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GOP divided while Dems united in 2016 picks

Sixty-six percent of Democrats say they would back Clinton in a Democratic presidential primary, while just 16 percent say they would want another candidate.
Hillary Clinton
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses a gala celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Center for American Progress at the Mellon Auditorium October 24, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The early battle for the White House in 2016 mirrors the current state of the country's two major parties -- Democrats are united while Republicans are divided.

According to a new NBC News poll, Democrats are heavily united behind Hillary Clinton as their nominee in three years. But Republican Gov. Chris Christie, fresh off a landslide re-election in New Jersey, would have to muscle through a likely fractious GOP primary before starting as the underdog against the former secretary of state.

Sixty-six percent of Democrats say they would back Clinton in a Democratic presidential primary, while just 16 percent say they would want another candidate.

And her support is widespread and solid among nearly all groups -- she tops 70% among women, seniors, those who make under $30,000, and voters in the Northeast and Midwest. Clinton doesn't drop below 60% in any major demographic group, but her lowest numbers are among men (62%), college graduates (62%) upper-income voters who make over $75,000 (60%) and voters in the South and West.

The Republican primary outlook is far from the Democrats' show of unity -- a 32% plurality of GOP voters say they would back Christie, but a near even 31% prefer someone else.

Christie's support is largely from his own Northeastern geographic base, where voters say they want Christie by a 57%-22% margin -- a positive sign for a New Hampshire primary. But his support slips in other key regions -- he only leads among Midwest voters 35%-30%, while 29% of voters in the South say they would vote for Chrsitie but 27% want someone else. In the West, 40% would back Christie compared with 22% for another candidate. Among men, Christie only scores 28%, and just 15% of younger voters between 18 and 29 say they would back Christie.

But Christie's biggest hurdle may not be emerging from a divided GOP primary if it's Clinton waiting in the wings in a general election. In a hypothetical match-up, Clinton leads Christie by 10 points, 44%-34%, with a coalition that's strikingly similar to the 2012 Obama vs. Romney battle.

Clinton also leads Christie in key demographic blocs where Republicans have had trouble making inroads -- even if Christie was successful in his re-election last week. She crushes the GOP governor among African American voters, 83%-4%, with Hispanic voters, 44%-33%, and among independent voters (39%-35%). She also leads in every regional breakdown: Northeast (52%-35%0, the West (43%-30%), Midwest (41%-37%) and even in the South (43%-35%).

The only bright spots for Christie is with traditionally strong GOP groups: white voters (41%-37%), seniors (44%-41%) and high income voters (46%-34%).

The NBC News survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research from Nov. 7-10 among 1,003 adults (margin of error of +/-3.6%), 428 Democrats or lean Democrat voters (+/-5.5% margin of error) and 394 Republican or lean Republican voters (+/- 5.8% margin of error).