By ANDREW TAVANI
A day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was elected by a landslide to a second term, he told NBC News that the resulting frenzy of speculation about a 2016 bid for the White House was "flattering," but added, "I got re-elected to do a job last night, and that's the job I'm going to do." He's undoubtedly been adding to the fever: Christie was a ubiquitous presence on TV this Sunday, appearing on four major political talk shows, and maintained he's not looking ahead to 2016. Christie may want to take a look at some opinion polls AOL.com conducted over the last week, because the results suggest that he is very popular among the site's users right now.
It should be noted that the polls, which appeared in the right column on AOL.com late last week and into early this week, are unscientific. We asked AOL users who they would vote for in various hypothetical Republican primaries pitting Christie against other possible 2016 candidates. We knew full-well that users who are registered Democrats would vote and that users would be able to vote more than once using multiple devices.
The aim of the polls was to take AOL users' temperatures and explore Christie's viability as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. AOL users and visitors to AOL.com represent a broad swath of the potential electorate and these poll results offer interesting, if imperfect, insight into how some of the following voting scenarios might play out in 2016.
So, how did the numbers break down? Basically, Chris Christie was a landslide winner against all of his hypothetical GOP opponents.
Christie vs. Jeb Bush
Of all the potential Republican opponents we matched Christie against, the former Florida governor and noted moderate Republican mounted the best competition for Christie in a head-to-head poll of AOL users who participated. Christie won easily, though, nabbing 61 percent of the vote to Bush's 39 percent.
Christie vs. Ted Cruz
The freshman U.S. senator from Texas has made a name for himself with tea party conservatives, particularly after staging a 21-hour take-down of Obamacare on the Senate floor just days before the health care insurance exchange opened. But in a head-to-head showdown with Christie, Cruz fared worse than any of his Republican colleagues we pitted against the New Jersey governor. Cruz only mustered 31 percent of the vote among participating AOL users compared with Christie's 69 percent.
Christie vs. Rand Paul
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is another conservative Republican, and he also won favor among conservative Republicans after he staged a 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor back in March in an attempt to block President Obama's nomination of John Brennan for CIA director. But in a head-to-head poll of AOL users who participated, Christie crushed Paul 66 percent to 34 percent.
Christie vs. Marco Rubio
The junior U.S. senator from Florida has been called 'the crown prince' of the tea party and his rise in the GOP has been meteoric since he took office in 2011. Sandwiched between Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney, he memorably delivered a rousing speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention. But in a poll of AOL users who participated, he was only able to manage 35 percent of the vote against Christie, who nabbed 65 percent in a one-on-one match-up.
Christie vs. Hillary Clinton
And that brings us the main event, the showdown many political observers believe will become reality in 2016: a presidential election between Chris Christie and former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Such a match-up would be a true clash of political titans, and according to a poll of 68,521 participating AOL users, it's a match-up Christie would win. Handily. In the poll, 55 percent of AOL users who participated voted for Christie and 45 percent voted for Clinton.
Of course, 2016 is a long way off, and both Christie and Clinton could choose not to run. Moreover, the AOL poll numbers aren't the only recent Christie poll figures. An NBC poll released on Tuesday reveals Christie may have a difficult road to the White House ahead of him. While Christie would dominate among Republican voters in the Northeast, the poll suggests would that voters in other parts of the country would prefer a different GOP candidate.
For now, though, Christie's immediate actions following his gubernatorial win last week appear to mimic those of the last three U.S. presidents, Ron Fournier points out in National Journal. Bookmark this page, and if Christie decides to run, navigate back here in 2016 and see how AOL users did or didn't predict what would unfold in the next election. And tell us what you think in the comments below.
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