By a huge margin, Democrats want former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be their presidential nominee in 2016, but even with Republicans divided, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is among the top contenders.

Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama
Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

A new national poll of registered voters from Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind is released today.

The survey finds that 63 percent of self-identified Democrats and those who lean Democratic support Clinton, with her potential rivals trailing her significantly. Twelve percent favor current Vice President Joe Biden, and three percent support New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On the GOP side, Republicans split their loyalties about evenly among Florida Senator Mario Rubio (18 percent), former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (16 percent), and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (14 percent). Another nine percent endorse former US Senator Rick Santorum, and a fifth each prefer someone else (21 percent) or are unsure (21 percent).

"Although it's very early in the contest, talk in the press about Secretary Clinton's possible run in 2016 is clearly being met with enthusiasm by Democratic voters," says Krista Jenkins, professor of political science and director of PublicMind. "Republican uncertainty mirrors the identity crisis the party is facing as it redefines its message in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential loss. Republican voters seem to be saying they remain on the lookout for their party's Mr. or Mrs. Right."

When considering the role that ideology appears to play in helping to distinguish support among the possible candidates, those who identify as politically conservative (66 percent) are more likely to favor Bush (16 percent), Rubio (20 percent), or someone else (26 percent) as compared to Christie (11 percent).

"These numbers suggest that Gov. Christie resonates more strongly with those who don't identify with the more conservative wing of the party," said Jenkins. "Whether this is a fleeting impression or one that will withstand the test of time remains to be seen, but his stewardship of a Democratic leaning northeastern state may make it more difficult for him to appeal to a large swath of Republican voters."

Grading The President

In December 2012 48 percent of registered voters approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing with 42 percent disapproving.

Today, approval comes in at 46 percent and disapproval remains unchanged at 42 percent. Both then and now, slightly more than a third (37 and 36 percent, respectively) think the country is headed in the right direction and half (50 and 51 percent, respectively) express concern that it's headed down the wrong track.

"Americans seem not to be swayed by the decisions of our leaders, including the President," says Jenkins. "From debates over gun legislation, economic policy, and national security in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, these numbers continue to reflect a nation that is uneasy with where it's headed and divided over the helpfulness of Obama's leadership."

How Do You Get Your News?

The poll also asked where registered voters get a majority of their news and information. Multiple choices were possible, and those sources that are the most frequent mentions include the Internet (44 percent), local TV news (43 percent), cable news (38 percent), network TV news (33 percent), a newspaper (31 percent), talk radio (21 percent), public radio (18 percent), comedy TV (10 percent), and other (5 percent.).

President Obama garners his greatest support from public radio listeners (59 percent) and comedy program viewers (59 percent), while those who disapprove of his job performance come from talk radio listeners (56 percent) and those who rely on "other" sources (55 percent).

"In today's media environment, the medium is often as important as the message," explains Jenkins. "Clearly, how people receive their news and information can help to influence who they like and how they evaluate political leaders."

The poll of 863 registered voters was conducted nationally by telephone with both landline and cell phones from April 22 through April 28, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points.

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