Hillary Clinton biggest Democratic front-runner ever: poll

Hillary Clinton biggest Democratic front-runner ever: poll

She still hasn't announced whether she's running for president in 2016, but Hillary Clinton is already the biggest front-runner ever for the Democratic presidential nomination, the Washington Post reports.

According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, Clinton leads Vice President Joe Biden by 61 percentage points — the largest margin in the history of the poll.

The former first lady is tops among all possible candidates for the Democratic Party with 73 percent of those polled saying they'd vote for her. Biden, at 12 percent, is a distant second, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who some believe could challenge Clinton in a primary, gets 8 percent of the vote.

"For any politician looking to take a flyer on challenging Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary," the Post writes, "these numbers will have a chilling effect on those ambitions."

Among possible Republican candidates, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (20 percent) leads by just 2 percentage points over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (18 percent) for the 2016 nomination. Scandal-plagued New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was once tabbed as a front-runner by some observers, sits in third place at 13 percent.

Historically, though, a big preprimary lead doesn't necessarily mean a candidate is a lock for the nomination, much less the White House.

In December 2006, Clinton led then-Sen. Barack Obama by 22 percentage points (39 to 17) among potential 2008 Democratic contenders. John Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential candidate, was third (12 percent) in that poll, while former Vice President Al Gore (10 percent) was fourth.

In 1999, Gore himself enjoyed a 37-point lead over former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley for the Democratic nomination ahead of the 2000 presidential race.

Still, the Post notes, Clinton "is a much larger favorite to be the nominee at this point in the 2016 process than she was at this same time (or ever) in the 2008 contest. And, while the hypothetical 2008 matchup showed three candidates — Obama, Edwards and Gore — with real followings immune from Clinton's frontrunner status, there is no one out there in 2016 that can make the same claim."

The poll, in part, shows why oddsmakers think a Clinton nomination is practically inevitable.

According to Oddschecker.com, a British website that tracks online bookmakers, Clinton is nearly a prohibitive favorite, with the odds of her gaining the Democratic nomination at 4 to 5.

2016 Republican presidential primary poll

• Paul Ryan 20%
• Jeb Bush 18%
• Chris Christie 13%
• Ted Cruz 12%
• Marco Rubio 10%
• Rand Paul 11%
• Other 2%
• None of these 4%
• Would not vote 1%
• No opinion 9%

2016 Democratic presidential primary poll

• Hillary Clinton 73%
• Joe Biden 12%
• Elizabeth Warren 8%
• Other 1%
• None of these 2%
• Would not vote 4%

SOURCE: ABC News/Washington Post poll