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Poll shows strong Democratic support for Clinton

Backing for Hillary Clinton was strong among Democrats but most did not know enough about Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to say whether she should run for president.

Win McNamee /Getty Images

Backing for Hillary Clinton was strong among Democrats but most did not know enough about Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to say whether she should run for president.

NEW YORK — More than 8 in 10 Democrats say they want Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president in 2016, showing a level of interest in her that no other potential candidates — Democrat or Republican — come close to matching among their party’s voters, a New York Times/CBS News Poll shows.

Drawing the most interest after Clinton are Vice President Joe Biden, former governor Jeb Bush of Florida, and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. For each of them, about 40 percent of self-identified members of their party said they hoped the person would run.

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As for Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey — the man once thought to be an early Republican favorite but who is struggling with the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal — more in his party say they do not want him to seek the presidency (41 percent) than say they do (31 percent).

The election, of course, is far off. But the level of enthusiasm among voters for candidates in their own party still matters, as those potential candidates are already deciding whether to run and beginning to plan their campaign and fund-raising strategies.

While Democrats appear overwhelmingly eager for a Clinton candidacy, the poll suggests that the Republican field, at least at this early stage, is far more muddled, with no potential candidate garnering majority enthusiasm for a presidential run.

Thirty-two percent of Republicans say they want Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to run; Rubio also seems to have fewer detractors than Bush or Paul. (More do not know enough about him to say.) Only 15 percent of Republicans said they did not want Rubio to run, compared with 21 percent for Paul and 27 percent for Bush.

Twenty-four percent said they hoped Senator Ted Cruz of Texas would run, compared with 15 percent who said they did not want him to. Fifty-nine percent do not know enough about Cruz to say.

The poll did not ask about several other potential Republican candidates, including governors John Kasich of Ohio, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin.

No major candidates in either party have yet declared their candidacy, but several have taken steps indicating they are seriously considering a run.

On the Democratic side, a majority of respondents were unable to offer opinions on several Democrats seen as potential candidates.

When asked about Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, 56 percent of Democrats said they did not know enough about her to say whether they would like her to run, as did 59 percent when asked about Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York. And 82 percent said they did not know enough about Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland to say if he should run in 2016.

Twenty-two percent of Democrats said they would like to see Warren run, compared with 17 percent for Cuomo and 3 percent for O’Malley.

Democrats were divided over Biden, with 42 percent saying they wanted him to run and 39 percent saying they did not, the poll found.

Male and female Democrats expressed similar levels of interest in Clinton.

A Clinton candidacy drew the strongest support among self-described independents, with 52 percent saying they hope she will run.

The poll was based on Feb. 19-23 phone interviews on land-lines and cellphones with 515 Democrats, 519 Republicans, and 550 independents. Sampling for each group had a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

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