Less than a year from the election and weeks away from the first ballots being cast, the 2016 presidential race is shaping up as a tight affair, although Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continue to poll well ahead of their rivals in the party primaries.
Results of a nationwide Dec. 2-6 Suffolk University/USA Today poll of likely voters show Republican Marco Rubio leading Democrat Hillary Clinton 48-45 in a hypothetical head-to-head general election matchup, with Clinton leading republicans Donald Trump (48-44), Ben Carson (46-45) and Ted Cruz (47-45). With a 4 percent margin of error, those results are all considered statistical dead heats.
Notably, Rubio was the only candidate in the poll with a positive favorability rating (plus 5), with 41 percent viewing him in a positive light and 36 percent giving him an unfavorable assessment. Clinton, who rolled out her Massachusetts leadership team this week, had a minus 15 favorability rating and Trump was at minus 30.
Among likely primary/caucus voters, Trump led Cruz, his nearest competitor, by a 27-17 margin, with Rubio at 16 percent and Cruz at 10 percent.
"Both Senators Cruz and Rubio are vying hard to be the Republican alternative to Trump, but there are 17 percent undecided still, which keeps the door open for one of the single-digit candidates to a make a splash in Iowa or New Hampshire and shake the race up further," Suffolk poll director David Paleologos said in a statement Tuesday.
Clinton led Democratic primary contender Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by a 56-29 margin, with 11 percent undecided and 4 percent preferring former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
In a Suffolk University/USA Today poll taken in July, Clinton led Trump 51-34 and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has fallen off in the polls, was her closest rival, trailing her by a 46-42 margin.