Hillary Clinton isn't only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she's well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new poll.
The former secretary of state rolled up support from majorities of voters when pitted against eight different Republicans. Though Clinton isn't saying whether she will seek the White House, her supporters have been raising money and promoting her candidacy.
The race for the Republican nomination is a free-for-all, with five possible contenders in a virtual tie. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was virtually deadlocked with Clinton as recently as December, has regained some political strength after stumbling early this year but remains far behind the Democrat.
"Hillary Clinton is jogging around the track by herself as far as the Democratic field is concerned. Republicans are all in the starting blocks," said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the McClatchy-Marist Poll last week.
Clinton was the only Democrat in the poll. Among Republicans, former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida - who last won their governorships in 2002 - each were named as the top choice of 13 per cent of Republicans or Republican leaners. Right behind at 12 percent each were Christie, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
A host of others, generally well regarded in Republican circles but barely known outside their home states, are far behind.
In single digits were:
-Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, 7 per cent.
-Governor. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, 5 per cent.
-Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, 4 per cent each.
-Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Governor Rick Perry of Texas, 3 per cent each.
-Governor John Kasich of Ohio, less than 1 per cent.
No one comes close to Clinton. Ryan does best, getting 43 per cent against her 51 per cent. Voters may see Ryan as "having a more serious policy focus," Miringoff said.
Ryan was instrumental earlier this year in crafting a two-year budget compromise with Democrats. Among those who give him strong support are moderate voters.
The Republican once thought most capable of winning in 2016 was Christie. He was re-elected in November with substantial support among constituencies that traditionally vote Democratic, notably women and Hispanics.
He quickly stumbled, however, thanks to reports that officials close to him were instrumental in closing some of the lanes that link Fort Lee, New Jersey, to New York City's George Washington Bridge in order to retaliate against a local mayor who wouldn't help Christie.
Christie made a lengthy, public apology, fired aides involved in the incident and was cleared by a report from allies last month.
His political numbers have slowly climbed, though he hasn't regained the stature he had in December, when he trailed Clinton by 3 percentage points.
This month he would lose to Clinton by 53 per cent to 42 per cent, but that's a notable improvement from the 21 percentage point gap between them two months ago.
The latest figures, Miringoff said, "make him look like one of the other Republicans".
Indeed, there was little to distinguish one Republican from another. Paul won 1 in 5 supporters of the tea party. Christie won only 3 per cent backing.
All of the Republicans ran well behind Clinton in head-to-head matchups. She was up by 16 over Bush, 13 over Huckabee, 16 over Rubio, 15 over Cruz, 14 over Paul and 21 over talk show host Joe Scarborough.
She was viewed favourably by 52 per cent, and unfavourably by 43 per cent. One particularly encouraging sign for her, Miringoff said, was her 46 percent favourability among whites, a higher percentage than President Barack Obama got in his two elections.
Clinton's unfavourability numbers did slip, though, as more Republicans soured on her. In January, Clinton had a 23 per cent favorable and 68 per cent unfavourable tilt among Republicans. This month, it was 19 per cent favourable and 78 per cent unfavourable. Miringoff said the change appeared to come "as she becomes candidate Clinton in the eyes of Republicans. It's not surprising".
The survey of 1,212 adults, conducted April 7-10, has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
-McClatchy Washington Bureau