A new Quinnipiac poll of likely Iowa caucus-goer shows Ted Cruz surging into a virtual tie for first place with Donald Trump. Cruz comes in at 23 percent, just two points behind Trump. Ben Carson has slipped to 18 percent (from 28 percent in the previous Quinnipiac poll). Marco Rubio is in fourth place at 13 percent. The margin of error is +/-4 points.
Cruz is the natural beneficiary of Carson’s decline. He gives base conservatives (who predominate in this poll — note the negative favorability ratings for Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, and John Kasich) an equally conservative alternative to the doctor who can talk foreign policy well. (Trump remains the favorite among Iowa Republicans whose focus is on the economy, according to the poll.)
In addition, for what it’s worth, it seemed to me when I was in Iowa that the Cruz campaign was doing a very good organizing job.
Throughout this campaign season, I’ve described Cruz as “lurking with intent” in or near the top tier. Lately, it’s become clear to me that he’s very much in the top tier, and I now think that no candidate is more likely than Cruz to win the GOP nomination.