Hillary Clinton trounces GOP foes in latest poll. Why that's not a big deal

A new poll shows Hillary Clinton ahead of potential Republican rivals in three critical swing states: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Why that doesn't mean much at this point in the 2016 presidential race.  

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Liam Richards)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs after people questioned about a Presidential run while she speaks to a crowd in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday shows Hillary Clinton trouncing nearly every potential Republican challenger in the 2016 presidential election in three critical swing states: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Since 1960, no candidate has won the presidency without winning at least two of those three states, and for some, this is further proof of Mrs. Clinton's early dominance in the 2016 race.

"Poll: Hillary Clinton wipes out GOP contenders - except Kasich," reads one headline. "Poll: Clinton sweeps GOP foes save Bush tie in Florida," reads another.

A lead in three key swing states is noteworthy. But Clinton shouldn't get too comfortable. More on that soon. For now, here's a closer look at the numbers.

In Florida, Clinton just barely leads former Gov. Jeb Bush 44 percent to 43 percent, falling within the 3.2 percent margin of error.

But she bests other potential GOP contenders in the Sunshine state by at least 10 points. In a hypothetical matchup, Clinton leads New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by 18 points, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by 12 points, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by 17 points and Florida Sen. and "native son" Marco Rubio by 10 points.

In Ohio, also, Clinton appears to lead other candidates despite matching Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 44 to 43 – well within the margin of error. Still, Clinton shows comfortable leads over Bush 47 to 36, Christie 47 to 34, Paul 48 to 36 and Huckabee 49 to 34.

Of the three states surveyed, Clinton finds the greatest support in Pennsylvania, according to the poll. Once again, she leads Bush 50 to 35, Paul 53 to 34, Huckabee 54 to 34 and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum 54 to 34.

“While would-be Republican presidential candidates, even Native Son Rick Santorum, absorb less than stellar favorability numbers, Clinton has the closest thing to rock star ratings a politician can get in America today,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polls, said in a statement. “Pennsylvania, which just elected a Democratic governor, is shaping up early in the campaign season as the bluest of the Swing States.”

She may be a Washington rock star, but right now, Clinton's lead isn't especially noteworthy. Here's why:

For starters, it's what you'd expect at this point in the 2016 race. The GOP vote is divided between as many as a dozen potential candidates, and the Democratic vote is essentially unified on one star candidate. It's no surprise, then, that the presumptive nominee (who has not yet, by the way, actually declared her intentions), sweeps.

And this early on, it's about name recognition and as far as name recognition goes, Clinton has the advantage. 

Of course, her lead isn't definitive everywhere – even this early on. As the poll points out, Clinton does, in fact, statistically tie two contenders in two swing states: Kasich of Ohio, and Bush, likely her most serious competitor. And the margins are narrowing in certain key states, Politico points out.

As the Miami Herald also notes, "if you 'unskew' the Quinnipiac poll (blending the average turnout by party ID from the last two presidential elections) Bush goes from trailing Clinton by 1 point to leading her by about 3, 46-43 percent in Florida."

And if we haven't already said it enough times – it's still early in the race and a lot can happen between now and Nov. 2016. As Hot Air's Ed Morrissey recently wrote, at this time eight years ago, "Obama['s] candidacy...looked like a bid to be Hillary’s VP choice or a credibility-establishing effort for a later, more serious campaign."

In other words, now is not the time for Hillary Clinton to read the polling numbers and gloat.

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