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With the 2016 general election a little less than 16 months away, key polling data for Hillary Clinton shows that her numbers look a lot like President Barack Obama's in 2012 — and could be bad news for Republicans.
The American Communities Project took the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling data and ran it through its filter.
The numbers show Republicans may have a hard road ahead. Across the types for which we had sufficient numbers for a sample — dense Big Cities, wealthy, diverse Urban Suburbs, and sprawling Exurbs — figures for Clinton look eerily similar to those Obama scored in his re-election effort.
We also collected numbers from a group of less-populated rural communities groups — counties ACP calls Rural Middle America, Graying America and the Aging Farmlands. These numbers show the familiar splits that favor Republicans.
You can see a map of all the types on this page.
But the over-riding point is that at this early stage of 2016, the electorate looks very similar in its 2012 patterns when you compare Hillary Clinton to the top three GOP competitors.
The margins are obviously not the key element here — a few points here or there are no big deal this early, and name recognition is going to climb and change things a bit. The bigger issue is how similar the breaks are, with Clinton owning the Big Cities and Urban Suburbs by large margins before things flip in the Exurbs. The 2012 frame looks very much in place at the moment.
If Republicans are going to have a chance in 2016, they are going to have to eat into some of those Clinton numbers in the Big Cities and Urban Burbs. In 2012, about 57 million votes came from those places. There were about 125 million votes cast overall.
The Urban Suburbs (about 29 million votes in 2012) should be the place the GOP nominee aims to sway voters, and going by these numbers, Rubio would be the best candidate there. He loses by only 17 points. But, it’s very early — and losing by 17 points probably isn’t going to get it done for the GOP. That’s worse than Romney did.
One other point, looking at the feeling thermometer in this latest poll: Clinton’s numbers look a great deal like Obama’s in this current poll.
None of it adds up for the GOP contenders 16 months out.