New Iowa Poll Seems To Set Up Inevitable Showdown Between Donald Trump And Ted Cruz

Another poll shows Ted Cruz rising and Ben Carson falls in the Hawkeye State. The only question is who attacks who first, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?

Donald Trump Ted Cruz

Seemingly confirming other recent polling, a new Quinnipiac poll shows a significant shift in the GOP race in Iowa, with Ben Carson falling and Texas Senator Ted Cruz pulling within striking distance of Donald Trump:

Ted Cruz, buoyed by tea party support and the backing of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, has surged to a virtual tie with Donald Trump in the first caucus state of Iowa, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll surveying likely Republican caucus-goers released Tuesday.

Trump took 25 percent of support, followed by 23 percent who opted for the freshman Texas senator, more than doubling his support in the same poll from October, when he earned just 10 percent. Trailing the two leaders is Ben Carson, who dropped from first to third, falling 10 points to 18 percent.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is next with 13 percent, while no other candidate registered in the double digits. Only Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul registers outside of the margin of error, at 5 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped a point from last month to 4 percent, followed by 3 percent for Carly Fiorina. No other candidate earned more than 2 percent support, and about 2 percent of Iowa Republicans said they were undecided.

Cruz drew 42 percent of his support from Republicans identifying with the tea party, nearly double the next closest candidate in Trump, with 23 percent of support from that group. While Cruz leads Trump among those who described themselves as very conservative (38 percent to 21 percent), Trump holds advantages over Cruz and Carson among those describing themselves as only somewhat conservative and, strikingly, those describing themselves as moderate or liberal. The Texas senator also narrowly outperformed Trump and Carson among white, born-again Evangelical Christians, earning 27 percent to Carson’s 24 percent and Trump’s 20 percent.

Trump’s supporters do appear to be the most adamant about their candidate, with 51 percent saying they have made up their minds and 48 percent saying they might make another choice. By comparison, just 41 percent of Republicans overall said they had made a firm decision, with 58 percent still mulling over the field. Among Carson supporters, just 33 percent said they are set on the retired neurosurgeon, and just 22 percent said the same for Rubio. About 44 percent of Cruz’s supporters said they had made up their minds.

Despite falling to third place, Carson still led the field in terms of overall favorability, at a net positive of 64 points (79 percent to 15 percent), followed closely by Cruz at a net positive 58 points (73 percent to 15 percent) and Rubio at a positive 52 points (70 percent to 18 percent). Trump’s favorability rating is lower, but still a respectable positive 25 points (59 percent to 34 percent).

On the issues, 24 percent of Republicans indicated that the economy and jobs are the most important factor for deciding on the candidate they will ultimately support, while 15 percent each selected terrorism and foreign policy, roughly a week following the terrorist attacks in Paris. About 11 percent cited the federal deficit, and 10 percent called illegal immigration the top issue.

Nearly nine in 10 — 88 percent — said they were either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about a Paris-style attack in the United States.

This new poll is consistent with polling from CBS News released yesterday that showed Carson slipping in Iowa and other early primary states while Cruz and, to some extent, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, rose in the polls to seemingly become the next candidates to take on Trump for the position at the top of the field. It’s also consistent with other signs that Ben Carson’s campaign may be seeing the beginning of the end of its dominance among conservatives thanks in no small part to Carson’s own obvious shortcomings and the fact that the attacks in Paris seem to be having an impact on voters and their choices of who they might support in the election, at least for now.

At this point, Carson is still technically in second place in the poll average in the Hawkeye State at 20.3%, with Cruz averaging 17.3%, Rubio at 11.3%, and Trump in first place at 25.5%. Carson’s standing, though, is being boosted to no small degree by the polling earlier this month that had him firmly in second place and is still being factored in the calculation of the average. If you look at the chart of the averages over time, though, you can already see Carson slipping while Cruz rises:

RCP Iowa Chart 1123

The Carson decline is also apparently, although somewhat less severe, in the Pollster numbers, which also don’t show Cruz’s rise to be as strong just yet. Again, that is largely due to the fact that Pollster uses a wider universe of polls to calculate its average, some of which may not be entirely reliable.

In any case, while we’re only looking at a limited number of polls right now it does appear that we’re seeing both the decline of Ben Carson in the Hawkeye State and the beginning of a rise by Ted Cruz that could make the race quite interesting going forward. Cruz rising in Iowa isn’t entirely surprising, of course, since he appeals to many of the same evangelical and strongly conservative voters that Carson does, and also is at least perceived as having more gravitas and experience than the retired neurosurgeon. Combine that with the star power that Cruz has had ever since he surprised many political observers by winning the Republican nomination for Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s open Senate seat in 2012 and going on to an easy victory in the General Election that year. Once Carson started exhibiting weakness both on foreign policy and his relationship to the truth, the path was open for voters who have been favorably inclined toward Carson to start looking elsewhere, and that seems to be what is happening here.

The biggest question, of course, is how Trump will respond to these polls, especially if they show Cruz continuing to gain or even surpass him in Iowa. In the past, Trump has routinely attacked candidates below him in the polls, including those such as Jeb Bush who haven’t really posed a threat to him in quite some time. His attacks on Ben Carson over the past month were particularly brutal and seemed to have a real impact on the race, and Trump has also attacked Marco Rubio quite strongly. Ted Cruz, however, has been one candidate that Trump has tended to stay away from attacking the Senator, and Cruz has also stayed away from attacking Trump. In September, the two men even held what was effectively a joint rally against the Iran nuclear deal. With Cruz rising in the polls now, though, it will be hard for either man to ignore the other, and Trump’s tendency to go after the next big challenger would seem to logically mean that Cruz will soon face his wrath. How voters will react to that remains to be seen.

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FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    Cruz and Trump; Michael Reynolds new dream team!!!!

  2. CSK says:

    It would seem that Trump has the advantage here. He can attack Cruz with impunity, but Cruz, who has openly admitted several times that he’s angling for Trump’s supporters when Trump bails/flames out, has to be careful in attacking Trump for fear of alienating them.

  3. Scott says:

    I’ve been hoping for the bright lights to shine on Cruz, who has been lurking in the shadows like Gollum, ready to pounce and stab someone in the back. Maybe now is the time. If I have to choose between Trump and Cruz, my immediate thoughts go to seppuku.

  4. grumpy realist says:

    If either Trump or Cruz become president, I swear, I’m going to start looking for the asteroid.

  5. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’m sure you, as I, can smell the odor of brimstone wafting from that pic of the two of them at the top of the article.

  6. Pch101 says:

    Cruz and Trump could be a pretty powerful duo. Of course, I’m referring to the two of them sharing a prime time talk show on Fox News.

    I could imagine a joint book tour in 2017 to help kick it off. The only problems here are that Trump would want to have the show for himself and to be on a larger network.

  7. cian says:

    It’s the same build-up of gas, they just have different ways of breaking wind- one with gusto, the other secretly, on the sly. They both, however, mean to make life as hard as possible for as many people as possible- minorities, women, refugees, immigrants, those struggling to raise families on the minimum wage. Anyone, in fact, who is not like them, does not fit the picture they have of themselves- white, successful, and Christian. The base is too caught up on hating the ‘other’ to notice the contradiction.

  8. Tony W says:

    Finally it sounds like we are going to have the proverbial “True Conservative” (TM) nominated – maybe we can put that myth to bed once and for all…..

  9. C. Clavin says:

    Spotted this yesterday…nothing Trump says is ever completely true. Not one single true statement.
    http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/
    And yet he leads the Republican Party. Everyone else in the party is responding to this fool. Astounding. How friggin’ dumb are Republicans that they are buying into this crap?
    Obviously that’s a rhetorical question.

  10. Gustopher says:

    Cruz should be worried, Since he might get Trumpled To Death. And, even if he gets the upper hand, I don’t think Trump is going to go down nicely without going ballistic and taking his attacker down with him.

    Also, has anyone heard anything from Jeb(!) since Trump described him as “low energy”? I saw a vine of him struggling to put on a hoodie, but that was about it.

  11. C. Clavin says:
  12. Pch101 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Everyone else in the party is responding to this fool. Astounding. How friggin’ dumb are Republicans that they are buying into this crap?

    To be fair, the GOP business establishment wing isn’t thrilled. But the leadership of the political parties don’t have an explicit say in who chooses to belong to the party.

    Reagan was adept at managing the ex-Dixiecrats and anti-secularists within the coalition while keeping the establishment in charge. That is no longer the case, and the populists are now able to drive the agenda. The establishment effort to accommodate the crazies has backfired; they should have known that one cannot negotiate with terrorists.

  13. Kylopod says:

    @Tony W:

    Finally it sounds like we are going to have the proverbial “True Conservative” (TM) nominated – maybe we can put that myth to bed once and for all…..

    Not a chance. If either of them win the nomination and go on to lose in the general election, suddenly we’ll begin hearing how they were never conservative to begin with.

  14. mike shupp says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I mumble to myself about Trump and Cruz as a ticket, and find I just can’t see it. Too much of the same sauce on the pizza, I think. Trump and Rubio however …. I could see them as a pair, with the Donald being the Maximum Leader and Rubio the Statesman-in-Training, heading for his 8 years of rule after Trump has had his two terms. I can’t see Cruz or his supporters being patient with playing 2nd fiddle so long.

    Also there’s this complication that Hilary Clinton is probably going to be a tough opponent in 2016. So Trump-Rubio isn’t a sure thing. And HRC in 2020 might be a weaker opponent in 2020 — we’re getting due another recession, after all.

    So it just might be the really smart thing for Cruz to show off his strength with a primary win or two or six this year, demonstrate his party loyalty by working for a Trump-Rubio ticket in the coming election, and then clean up in 2020 after defeat has obliterated most of the current Republican contenders.

    My 2 cents, and I think I’ll have another drink now or six.

  15. Dave Francis says:

    KING Obama needed to go these last past 7 years, as he has driven America into the ground and we are anxious for a real leader. There is ONLY one solution and that is this President standing down or abdicating as he proven himself as King’s, changing laws by decree instead of following the edicts of the US Constitution. He has become an adversary against the rights of the people, trying to impose what he calls political correctness and overreaching his status on so many issues that is tearing America apart. I personally blame the Republicans for not beginning impeachment years back; that one of the reasons.

    All free thinking American should be vigilant of a brand new rush of regulations being stealthily dumped on us on Thanksgiving Day by this President. These are bureaucratic regulations not passed by Congress, which Obama has passed that are mostly environmental related except for one closing the prison camp at GITMO, Cuba. This president doesn’t care about the people, just his legacy. The so called uniting Commander in Chief who has divided our nation? THE DEMOCRATS HAVE A SCREW RATTLING UNDER THEIR CRANIUM, IF THEY DON’T CONSIDER ABOUT THE CORRUPTION UNDER THE FEDERAL ROOF. THAT’S EXCEPT FOR THE MAJORITY OF SPONGERS WHO LIVE AS VIRUSES AS A HOST ON TAXPAYERS.

    UNDER DONALD TRUMPS PRESIDENCY WE WILL NOT HAVE TO SUPPORT ILLEGAL ALIENS ANY MORE. IT WILL ALSO BE THE DEATH OF CORPORATE WELFARE AND A RETURN OF HUGE CORPORATIONS FROM ABROAD AND BRINGING JOBS BACK HERE. AND THE MAJORITY OF UNLAWFUL REGULATIONS AND OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY REPEALED.

    I am taking the Donald Trump ticket to the election booth who has a strong response to the dangers that are surroundings us and doing more for the people instead of dividing us into individual races. As a leader of the world Obama should have built a coalition of European countries and allies to annihilate those who are committing atrocity in the Middle East. This man seems to hide under the table and will not listen to his military consultants or any handler. No more leniency as this crippled president who will not even utter the two words–Extreme Islam.

    Trump will soon be under attack by the Super Pacs, who are furious that his poll numbers are up in the clouds? Millions of dollars are pouring into a LLC Limited Liability Company, to hopefully derail his Oval Office bid. The wealthy that breeds the corruption in Washington are in a losing battle, Trump has his arenas of followers and million of people across this nation and any dirt, they dig up will not matter. GOP Elites will twist his commentary or use anything he previously said against him.

    THE ONLY POLITICIAN WHO CANNOT BE INFLUENCED BY MONEY, WHICH IS THE POWER ADDED TO THE CAMPAIGNS IS DONALD TRUMP. SHAMELESSLY WASHINGTON IS RIPE WITH CORRUPTION, SPECIFICALLY IN THIS ELECTION YEAR. OTHER THAN TRUMP MY ONLY CHOICE IS SENATOR TED CRUZ. HIS VOICE RESONATES IN CONGRESS AND AMONG THE AMERICAN PEOPLE; THE OTHERS I DON’T TRUST BECAUSE THEY ALL NEED MONEY TO SURVIVE IN THIS TERRIBLE VOTING SYSTEM. THIS IS WHAT OUR SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT HAS TURNED INTO; BECAUSE OF THE HUGE AMOUNT OF DOLLARS THAT BUYS THE VOTES IN OUR COUNTRIES DEMOCRACY.

    ELECTIONS ARE ALSO OPEN TO VOTER FRAUD, AS THE MAJORITY OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS DO NOT REQUIRE OFFICIAL ID? I HEARD RUMORS ABOUT A NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION CARD, BUT THE LEFT WILL FIGHT IT IN THE COURTS. THE PROGRESSIVE RADICALS ARE WELL AWARE NON CITIZENS FRAUDULENTLY VOTE OR DO NOT KNOW THAT ONLY CITIZENS ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE? THIS ELECTION WILL DOOM OUR COUNTRIES FUTURE IF JEB BUSH OR HILLARY CLINTON IS HIRED BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.

    There is nothing the Democrats and the Republicans can say or do, which will change my presidential vote for Donald Trump and that goes for millions of other American patriots? The mainstream party hierarchy as Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton, just doesn’t have the impetus or physical exertion or ambitious strength that this man emanates? Sharp of tongue, a strong-willed temperament to deal with the economic and troubling issues this country is being confronted with? This administrations has been on a spending spree that has unrestrained from raiding the state and federal treasuries. Using monetary support to keep millions of illegal aliens on a level of survival?

    This is completely wrong when elderly citizens have to reach out to welfare, when many are too proud to admit they need services. Why are these Senior Citizens living on the edge of poverty, when Obamas government has money to cater to illegal aliens? A month or more ago the Social Security stated there would not be any extra money in the (COLA) Cost of Living Adjustment program. Our seniors who have worked all their lives and deserves extra dollars but are being neglected? Then our homeless Veterans who are mentally sick and left to fend for them, forced to stand in a doorway of 7/11 store begging for money. We cannot keep resettling illegal foreign nationals, unless they can support themselves; the costs for their support would build Trumps wall or amend the E-Verify to restructure it as MANDATORY.

    It is no wonder American are stupefied and full of rage at the politicians who are now flip-flopping over their original speeches of foreigners pouring through gaps in our border fences or just enlightening from a jet, lying to an Immigration inspector at the gate with no intentions to return to their place of birth. Our country is overrun with more illegal immigrants than ever before. They have already broken the law, by entering a sovereign nation and the Obama Administration either does nothing or allows it to happen. That’s why MANDATORY E-VERIFY MUST BE IMPOSED? IT’S IMPLAUSIBLE THAT POTUS WILL DISMISS ANY RULING AGAINST BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP, BUT IMPLEMENTING A STRINGENT (NO EXCEPTION) E-VERIFICATION, SO THAT EVERYBODY WHO WORKS MUST BE VETTED AND ILLEGAL ALIENS WILL BE DEPORTED. So what can MANDATORY E-VERIFY do? Bring to justice business owners who hiring illegal aliens for profit and ignoring the rightful owners of jobs–Americans? Those caught should face large fines and even time in jail. At least $250K and at least 5 years for their greed, according how many illegal aliens were in the companies’ workplace?

    Congress must revaluate E-Verify so there is no way of escaping this strict deterrent. Unable to find a job, illegal aliens will take their families and leave?

    ONLY TRUMP CAN CHANGE THE DIRECTION FOR AMERICA, AS NOBODY CAN BUY HIM?

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @Dave Francis:

    IT WILL ALSO BE THE DEATH OF CORPORATE WELFARE

    Hahahahahahaha….how does that kool-aid taste???
    Trump is a massive recipient of corporate welfare. He wouldn’t be the billionaire he is without corporate welfare.
    Seriously…where do these kooks come from?

  17. Tony W says:

    @Dave Francis: Back to Mr. Clavin who points out little that Trump says is true, so there’s that.

  18. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Dave Francis: I suggest you look at the number of lies your Dear Leader has already been caught in. If he makes up stories about black people, Muslims, and Mexicans, how long will it be before he’s making up stories about YOU?!

    I expect you’re a white guy who’s of the majority religion and who thinks he ill never have to worry about this. You probably think that Donald Trump is going to do great things for you while the reality is that you’re just another useful idiot to pull the lever for him.

  19. al-Ameda says:

    @Dave Francis:

    KING Obama needed to go these last past 7 years, as he has driven America into the ground and we are anxious for a real leader.

    You lost me at: “KING Obama.”
    By the way, did you know that the sky is falling?

  20. Pch101 says:

    @Dave Francis:

    This must be a cry for help. He must need a new computer, as his CAPS LOCK key is obviously broken.

  21. Grewgills says:

    When you respond the troll wins. He is spouting obvious Poe level blather. It isn’t something even a casual observer who is in any way persuadable by national argument would be swayed by. Why take the bait?