WASHINGTON - In the crucial swing state of Ohio, voters are practically split between Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie in a hypothetical 2016 presidential matchup, according to a new survey.
And in a potentially bad sign for 2014 Democrats, the new Quinnipiac University poll indicates the President's approval rating is at its lowest point in Quinnipiac polling history--nationally or in any state--at 34%.
The survey, which was released Wednesday, shows 42% of registered voters back the former Secretary of State while 41% support the recently re-elected Republican governor from New Jersey.
"Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are the 2016 leaders to Ohio voters, locked in a statistical tie," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute, said in a release.
The Ohio poll is the latest survey to show Christie gaining ground against Clinton in a swing state. A Quinnipiac poll in Colorado last week indicated Christie ahead of Clinton by eight percentage points.
Three recent surveys in the reliably blue state of New York, however, show Christie trailing behind Clinton, who served eight years as Senator from the Empire State.
In the new Quinnipiac poll, Clinton topples Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, 49%-38%. The governor, who's considered a possible 2016 White House contender, faces re-election next year, and a Quinnipiac survey released Tuesday showed him ahead of his likely Democratic opponent by only seven percentage points.
Ohio voters also support Clinton over other potential Republican contenders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
None of the mentioned potential candidates have announced bids for the White House, but many of them have made high-profile trips to swing states or have said they're considering a run.
"Ms. Clinton easily defeats a bevy of other potential GOP aspirants," Brown said. "Interestingly, when voters are asked whether she would make a good president, more say yes, than say they would vote for her."
Also of note, voters are divided, 44%-45%, on whether Washington experience or experience outside the nation's capital would help someone be a good President, Brown added.
Another potential candidate, Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, sparked a debate when he argued last week in an interview that the next presidential and vice presidential nominees should be a current or former governor--though he noted his friend from Wisconsin, Rep. Paul Ryan, would be an exception.
With the President's approval rating dropping in recent polls--including the new Quinnipiac survey--Democrats on the ballot next year are concerned about a trickle-down effect.
At 34%, Obama's approval rating in Ohio is six percentage points lower than his previous low point in the Buckeye State, when it was at 40% this past June.
A majority--57%--say the President is not honest or trustworthy, while 39% say the opposite, according to the new survey.
"Clearly much of the reason for the president's decline in Ohio is 'Obamacare'," Brown said. "Ohio voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 59 -- 35 percent. Perhaps more significantly, voters say 45 -- 16 percent they expect their own health care to be worse rather than better a year from now."
"If voters still feel that way about their own situation come November 2014, that is likely to create a political playing field beneficial for Republicans," Brown added.
Apologizing for the broken promise that Obama and his fellow Democrats made in order to sell his signature health care plan--"If you like your plan, you can keep it"--the President acknowledged how the program's troubled kick-off could hurt Democrats in the voting booth.
"There is no doubt that our failure to rollout the ACA smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they are running or not because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin," Obama said earlier this month.
In fact, a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday showed a dramatic turnaround in the battle for control of Congress in next year's midterm elections.
While Democrats had a lead a month ago, the new poll indicates the GOP now holds a narrow 49%-47% advantage over Democrats when respondents are asked to choose between a Republican and a Democrat in their congressional district, without the candidates being identified.
Despite the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov, a majority of Americans still seem to have an open mind about whether Obamacare will work, and more than half of those surveyed in another CNN/ORC poll believe the current problems can be solved.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,361 registered voters by telephone from November 19 -- 24, with an overall sampling error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.