The Washington Times - December 17, 2013, 08:39AM

A new survey of Iowa voters says Hillary Clinton would trump Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul — but not New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — in a potential 2016 presidential matchup, a sign that Mr. Christie carries some sway in a general election contest despite a separate poll that says he trails the likes of a Rep. Paul Ryan and Texas Gov. Rick Perry among Iowa Republicans.

Mr. Christie leads Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state, by 45 percent to 40 percent in the early look at the 2016 contest by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. The institute says women overwhelmingly back Mrs. Clinton, while men favor Mr. Christie by an 11-percent margin.

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“New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie pulls ahead of Secretary Hillary Clinton among Iowa voters. The change from the last time Quinnipiac University polled Iowa, July 22 when they were tied 41-41 percent, reflects a general improvement for Republicans, almost certainly related to the controversy over ‘Obamacare,’” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Mrs. Clinton tops Mr. Paul of Kentucky by 1 percentage point and leads Mr. Cruz of Texas, 48 percent to 41 percent.

Iowa is a crucial political bellwether, since its voters formally kick off each presidential-primary season with their party caucuses.

State voters also told Quinnipiac they think Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, should be re-elected.

“Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad enters his re-election year in better shape than when we looked five months ago. He defeats his three potential Democratic opponents by 16 points or more and has the kind of job approval that usually goes along with comfortable re-elections,” Mr. Brown said.