WASHINGTON — At this early stage for the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton dominates, while Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky comes in second among Republican contenders.
Clinton leads the potential field of candidates for the Democratic nomination by huge margins, with a more than 5-to-1 advantage over her nearest rival and more than doubling the support of everyone else combined, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll. The Republican race is wide open, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie slightly ahead. And Clinton has an edge or outright lead over any of them.
"It's Hillary versus the pack for the nomination," said Lee Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the poll.
"There is no strong contender against her," he said. "She doesn't want to use the word inevitable, but these numbers are as wide as they can get. She's jogging around the track by herself."
The former first lady, senator and secretary of state enjoys lopsided support among Democrats and Democratic-leading independents:
■ Clinton, 65 percent.
■ Vice President Joe Biden, 12 percent.
■ Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, 9 percent.
■ Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, 3 percent.
■ Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, 1 percent.
An early lead in the polls is far from a guarantee of success in the caucuses and primaries that start in about two years, of course. Clinton led by smaller margins in early polls for the 2008 nomination, only to be overtaken by Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois.
The early race is not just about personalities or resumes. Democrats are split over how to proceed into a post-Obama era, with 49 percent hoping for a candidate who would follow Obama's policies and 46 percent looking for a candidate who will move in a different direction.
At this stage, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are wide open in their preferences:
■ Gov. Christie of New Jersey, 18 percent;
■ Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, 12 percent;
■ Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, 11 percent;
■ Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 10 percent;
■ Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, 10 percent;
■ Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, 8 percent;
■ Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 7 percent;
■ Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, 4 percent;
■ Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, 4 percent;
■ Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, 3 percent.
Paul's support grows among independents, but also among Tea Party supporters, non-college graduates and younger voters. Paul told the Lexington Herald-Leader this week that "it's not a slam dunk that I'm running."
In a hypothetical general election matchup, Clinton has an edge over Christie and a double-digit lead against anyone else. She leads:
■ Christie 48-45;
■ Rubio 52-42;
■ Bush 53-41;
■ Paul 55-40;
■ Ryan 56-40;
■ Perry 58-37;
■ Cruz 57-35;
■ Palin 59-36.
This survey of 1,173 adults was conducted Dec. 3-5. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were interviewed by telephone using live interviewers. Results are statistically significant within plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.