There’s a new frontrunner among GOP candidates in the key electoral state of Iowa, according to the latest Monmouth University presidential poll released on Monday.
For the first time, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a constitutional conservative who has been regularly attacked by the establishment in both political parties, has taken a clear lead in Iowa, pushing past Donald Trump into first place.
Ted Cruz now leads the still-crowded GOP field with 24% of the vote, followed by Trump at 19%. Last month’s poll showed a statistical tie, with Trump edging Cruz 25-23%.
Nearly 1-in-5 likely caucusgoers say that Rep. Steve King’s recent endorsement of Cruz makes them more likely to support the Texas senator – including 7% who say it makes them a lot more likely and 12% a little more likely.
After Cruz and Trump comes Florida Senator Marco Rubio at 17% (who had moved up from 10% in last month’s poll), followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 13%.
Cruz’s continual surge seems to be at the expense of Carson, according to the poll’s director.
“As Ben Carson’s stock has fallen, Cruz has been able to corral most of those voters,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey.
Cruz’s support among evangelical voters has skyrocketed at Carson’s expense. Only two months ago, Ben Carson, who briefly led in the state, garnered 36% of the evangelical vote, while Cruz had just 12%. Now those numbers have completely flip-flopped with Cruz taking 30%, and Carson falling to 15%.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted Dec. 3-6, polling Iowa voters likely to attend the Iowa Caucuses on February 1. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.8%, meaning Cruz’s lead is outside the margin of error.
Last month, Donald Trump told CNBC that if Ted Cruz continued to soar, he would have no choice but to “go to war” with him.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump told CNBC. “[But] if he catches on, I guess we’ll have to go to war.”
Trump and Cruz have been on very good terms, refusing to attack each other. It remains to be seen whether Trump will turn his mudslinging towards Cruz as he has other candidates in the race.