Hillary Clinton is ahead of top GOP contenders like Marco Rubio, a new poll says. (Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton is ahead of top GOP contenders like Marco Rubio, a new poll says. (Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton would beat Marco Rubio in 2016, new poll says

There was only one silver lining for 2016 Republican hopefuls in a new Quinnipiac poll released Thursday: It’s only 2013.

Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state and oft-mentioned 2016 candidate for president, would beat three top GOP contenders — Florida Senator Marco Rubio, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, if the election were held today.

Clinton bests Rubio  50 to  34 percent and Ryan 50 to 38 percent. Christie, who has angered some Republicans at times for being seen as too friendly with President Obama, is most competitive with Clinton, coming in at 37 percent support to her 45 percent.

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“Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would start a 2016 presidential campaign with enormous advantages,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “She obviously is by far the best known and her more than 20 years in the public spotlight allows her to create a very favorable impression on the American people. But it is worth noting that she had very good poll numbers in 2006 looking toward the 2008 election, before she faced a relative unknown in Barack Obama.”

Rubio has been no slouch in gaining attention and clout in a Republican party transitioning from a humbling 2012 election loss. Time magazine named him the “savior” of the GOP on a recent cover and he has also been front and center as a member of the Gang of 8 bipartisan group of Senators working on comprehensive immigration reform.

On the lighter side of things, he took it all in good fun when he was mocked for awkwardly lurching to the left for a bottle of Poland Spring water during the GOP response to the State of the Union, and has lately taken to defending Tupac as a rapper far ahead of the likes of Lil Wayne and invoking the lyrics of “modern day poets,” rappers Wiz Kalifa and Jay-Z during a marathon filibuster on the Senate floor.

For her part, Clinton may be out of politics at the moment, but one needn’t go very far to find possible clues to her future. Her new official website, HillaryClintonOffice.com, which launched the day after she resigned as Secretary of State, shows a photo of Clinton that many are calling “presidential.”

RELATED: It’s going to be Clinton/Castro in 2016

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