Vice President Biden, weighing a run for president, runs slightly stronger than Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in hypothetical matchups against top Republican contenders, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday.

Clinton still leads the Democratic nomination chase, but her margin has declined sharply, and "liar" was the word most frequently picked to describe her in an open-ended question asked of survey respondents.

Donald Trump leads the Republican 17-pack of candidates with 28 percent support, up from  the university's July 30 national pol, when he was at 20 percent. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon has 12 percent, with 7 percent each for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. No other candidate topped 6 percent.

Clinton stands atop the Democratic field with 45 percent, down from 55 percent in the July 30 survey. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has 22 percent and Biden is backed by 18 percent.

Neither of the former governors in the Democratic race, Maryland's Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, registered above 1 percent support. (Eleven percent said they were undecided.)

"The real news is the man who isn't there – yet," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. "Note to Biden: They like you, they really like you, or they like you more than the others." Malloy said his matchups with GOPers and high favorability ratings may "compel" Biden to jump in.

Biden, who is mourning the death of his son, Beau, has said he will come to a decision about running this fall. He told a conference call with Democratic National Committee Members Wednesday he wondered if he has the "emotional fuel" a presidential run would require. He said he would want to run with his whole heart and soul, adding that both of those are "battered" at this point.

The poll is based on live telephone interviews, by land line and cell phone, of 1,563 registered voters nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The survey includes 666 Republicans, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for GOP horse-race questions, and a sample of 647 Democrats, with a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.