I know it's very early, actually too early, to make predictions or draw real conclusions about the presidential race in 2016, but some new numbers from a Zogby Analytics nationwide poll show just how bumpy the road might be for the Republicans. The new poll, conducted online on March 28 and 29, shows former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beating three top GOP contenders by 18-23 points. In each case, Mrs. Clinton tops 50%.
None of the figures tested, including Mrs. Clinton, has actually declared for their party's nomination, but all are prominently mentioned as putative contenders.
In a race against former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Mrs. Clinton leads 51% to 33%, with 16% undecided. A close look at the poll's internals suggests that the former First Lady and U.S. Senator strongly holds on to the main elements of the Democratic base that propelled Barack Obama to victory twice. She leads 49% to 38% among men and 53% to 29% among women; she holds big leads among all voting groups under 65; she wins 87% support among Democrats and holds a 17-point lead among independents (45%-28%); has a 37 point lead with moderates (58%-21%) and almost clears the deck with liberals (87%-5%).
Mrs. Clinton also is ahead among Catholics (47%-34%) and Protestants (47%-39%), including receiving 36% support among Born Again/Evangelical voters. She wins among voters in union households (65%-23%), married voters (48%-37%) and single voters (56%-26%); social networkers (61%-27%), Investor Class (56%-32%), the Creative Class (57%-28%), and Weekly Wal-Mart Shoppers (54%-33%). She holds a 3-point lead among white voters (43%-40%), and wallops Mr. Bush among both Hispanics (67%-17%) and African Americans (84%-9%).
Mrs. Clinton fares even better against both Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (53%-32%) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (52%-29%). Sub-group support is about the same as her race against Governor Bush, except Senator Paul appears to be doing better among younger voters, a group he is targeting for support. Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. Paul 49% to 32%, while her lead against Mr. Bush among these voters is 54%-30%. She leads Mr. Christie among young voters 55%-28%.
There is a very long way to go. Americans will relive the Clinton soap opera and the Benghazi killings, but thus far these issues have not hurt her. She seems to be drawing extra support from middle age voters who say the United States is a ready for a woman to take command - and who want it in their lifetime. But she will have to spend some very cold days again in Iowa and New Hampshire, prove that her health makes her fit enough for the rigors of a campaign and a presidency, and try to not act so "inevitable" (something that Iowa and New Hampshire voters do not like).
But for today, Mrs. Clinton is riding a crest and the GOP candidates are under water.