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Hillary leading the pack in 2016

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the pack against any Republican contender in 2016, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll of po
(Left: Photo by Rex Features via AP Images; Right: Photo by Richard Drew/AP)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the pack against any Republican contender in 2016, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll of potential 2016 presidential candidates released Thursday.

In the poll's hypothetical 2016 match-ups, Clinton leads the most popular Republican governor, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, by 8 points, 45% to 37%. Clinton also runs ahead of all the other Republican contenders.

"Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would start a 2016 presidential campaign with enormous advantages," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "She obviously is by far the best known and her more than 20 years in the public spotlight allows her to create a very favorable impression on the American people. But it is worth noting that she had very good poll numbers in 2006 looking toward the 2008 election, before she faced a relative unknown in Barack Obama."

The poll shows Clinton and Christie as the two most formidable candidates in the next 2016 presidential election. Clinton leads former vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan by 12 points, 50% to 38%, and Senator Marco Rubio 50% to 34%.

Another prospective Democrat, Vice President Joe Biden, holds a slight advantage over Ryan, 45% to 42%. Biden also beats Senator Rubio 45% to 38%. But when Biden is matched up against Governor Christie, Christie wins by a three point margin, beating him 43% to 40%. Christie also has a 17-point advantage over New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, 43% to 28%.

Chris Christie was recently snubbed by the Conservative Political Action conference that will be held in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

"CPAC is like the all-star game for professional athletes; you get invited when you have had an outstanding year," said Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, as an explanation for the organization's decision. "Hopefully he will have another all-star year in the future, at which time we will be happy to extend an invitation."

The outspoken Republican governor responded to Cardenas at a local New Jersey event, “that’s their prerogative,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “They get to decide.”

"Although some Republicans don’t think New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is conservative enough for their taste, he runs best of the three Republicans and would defeat two of the top Democrats," Brown said.

Additionally, the Quinnipiac poll found another Democratic edge—71% of Americans disapprove of Republicans in Congress, compared to 60% of Americans who approve of Democrats. President Obama's approval rating has a 45 - 46% job approval, which hasn't changed from last month but is still down from his high of 53%  in December.

On gun control, 88% of Americans, including households with weapons, also favor universal background checks for all purchases of guns. Though Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has had a tough time gathering support for her ban on military-style weapons bill, 54% of voters support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons and 54% say they support a ban on the sale of ammunition clips with more than 10 rounds.

Feinstein's new legislation would ban the sale, manufacture, importation, and transfer of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines in addition to banning high-capacity ammunition that holds more than 10 rounds.