WASHINGTON — The 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is Hillary Clinton’s if she wants it, according to a poll released Thursday in which Vice President Joe Biden is the party’s frontrunner if she doesn’t.
The Quinnipiac University survey showed 65 percent of Democratic voters backing Clinton as their party’s nominee, with Biden second at 13 percent. Other frequently mentioned prospects had support in the low single digits in the April 25-29 poll: 4 percent for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and 1 percent or less for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner.
Clinton, 65, “has a rock-solid hold on the hearts of Democratic voters at this point,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute in Hamden, Conn.
A former secretary of state, senator from New York and first lady, Clinton hasn’t commented on any future political plans since she stepped down from her diplomatic post early this year. Supporters, though, have formed a super-PAC to work for her if she seeks the White House.
She could also get help from Emily’s List, an advocacy group that supports Democratic women candidates who back abortion rights.
“If she decides to take this on, she’s in an incredible position,” Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock told reporters Thursday morning in announcing an effort to elect Clinton or another woman as president in 2016.
To accomplish its goal Emily’s List plans to enlist its 2 million supporters, as well as use online advertising and conduct town-hall meetings in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. Another tool will be online chats, such as one later Thursday with followers of a website geared toward women that was co-founded by actress Zooey Deschanel.
If Clinton, whose husband, Bill, served as president from 1993 to 2001, decides to skip the race, the Quinnipiac poll showed 45 percent would support Biden, 70, as the Democratic nominee. Cuomo’s backing would rise to 15 percent, with 6 percent for Patrick, 3 percent for O’Malley and 2 percent for Warner.
“There is a long way to go until 2016, but none of the other younger potential candidates for the Democratic nomination currently has anything approaching widespread support from party voters,” Brown said.
Cuomo is 55, Patrick 56, O’Malley 50, and Warner 58.
Clinton would be the first woman to head a major political party’s national ticket. Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., in 1984 and Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008 ran as their parties’ vice presidential nominees. Clinton lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Obama.
A Feb. 27-March 4 Quinnipiac poll showed Clinton leading three potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who ran for vice president last year on a ticket led by Mitt Romney.