The latest on the presidential horse race.

Quinnipiac Poll: Republicans Close the Gap on Hillary Clinton in Virginia

Quinnipiac, 3/19-3/24

  • Clinton: 45, Christie: 41
  • Clinton: 48, Paul: 42
  • Clinton: 47, Bush: 39
  • Clinton: 49, Huckabee: 41

In the last Virginia poll we saw, conducted at the end of February, Hillary Clinton held double-digit leads over most of the Republican pack. A new Quinnipiac poll, however, has found that the Republicans are closing in on the presumptive Democratic nominee in the key swing state.

The poll, conducted between March 19 and March 24, sampling 1,288 registered voters, found that Clinton now leads Chris Christie by just 4 percent in Virginia, a 45-41 margin. Of course, Christie had led Hillary toward the end of 2013 but fell eight points back following his Bridgegate fiasco. He has recovered a bit in most states and is inching back into the fold. His deficit is the closest of any Republican.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul enjoying a large spike in name recognition and support, is now within 6 percent of the former Secretary of State in Virginia. He trailed by as as much as 14 percent earlier this year. Clinton still leads Paul by a 48-42 margin but the Tea Party favorite is certainly back in the game.

The other two candidates sampled are a bit farther back but still within single-digits of the former First Lady. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush now trails Clinton by a margin of 47-39. Back in February, Bush was down by 13 points. This is the first time Bush has been within single-digits of Hillary since last summer.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee also finds himself eight points back of the former New York Senator. Huckabee trails Clinton by a 49-41 margin, a significant improvement over his 15 percent deficit back in February.

There are two key issues clearly in play here. First, as we saw in 2012, the hype train can boost a potential Republican nominee greatly. We saw that in the last Republican primary campaign when Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann led the polls for a short time. Now, Rand Paul seems to be getting a bump and these bumps should continue to propel various candidates toward short-term gains.

The other aspect is Hillary fatigue. While Republicans can bounce from one candidate to another, there isn’t much competition in the Democratic race which means voters can ultimately grow tired of her frontrunner status, costing her some serious points. Two things to watch as we head toward the midterms.

(Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore)