U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a press conference...

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a press conference during the second day of NATO Foreign Affairs ministers meeting at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. (Dec. 5, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

In a potential 2016 presidential matchup, New Jerseyans prefer their own governor, Chris Christie, over New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, but Christie narrowly trails Hillary Rodham Clinton, a new poll showed Wednesday.

Republican Christie led Cuomo, a Democrat, 54 percent to 36 percent, but Clinton, who just stepped down as secretary of state, would beat Christie by a margin of 49 percent to 45 percent, the poll of 1,149 voters showed.

"If the 2016 presidential race shapes up to be the Battle of the Hudson, native son Christie tops New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the west bank of the river, but is locked in a tight race with the Empire State's favorite adopted daughter, Hillary Clinton," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

New York and New Jersey governors often vie with each other, but the behind-the-scenes rivalry between Cuomo and Christie has intensified because both are seen as possible presidential contenders.

The new poll, conducted Feb. 13-17 and with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, follows some eye-catching comments Christie made earlier this week.

Denying reports he had said he agreed with Cuomo 98 percent of the time, Christie, according to a videotape posted by media outlets, said: "What I said was that Governor Cuomo and I were raised in very much the same kind of households. Governor Cuomo was raised by a Sicilian mother and so was I, and so that -- a lot of our values are the same."

Cuomo Wednesday said, "I understand that the governor said that we both have Sicilian mothers and that is true. . . . I don't know on political philosophy, but on personal development, the Sicilian mother is a very powerful force."

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