Ted Cruz takes lead in Iowa in new Monmouth University poll

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For the first time this year, Ted Cruz leads in Iowa, according to a new Monmouth University poll released on Monday.

The Texas Senator gets 24 percent among likely to participate in the Iowa caucus scheduled for next February. That’s a five-point leader over Donald Trump, who is in second place with 19 percent, followed closely by Marco Rubio with 17 percent. Ben Carson is fourth with 13 percent, followed by Jeb Bush at 6 percent. Rand Paul is at 4 percent, while Carly Fiorina and John Kasich earn 3 percent each. None of the other six candidates tested in the poll draws more than 2 percent support.

The poll indicates that while Cruz is surging, Ben Carson’s support in Iowa has been cratering. Carson led the Monmouth Iowa poll two months ago, but  he’s dropped 19 percentage points since October.

Cruz, on the other hand, has jumped by 14 points in the past two months. Marco Rubio is also rising, garnering 7 percent. Jeb Bush’s 6 percent is similar to what he polled there two months ago.

“This marks the first time Ted Cruz has held a lead in any of the crucial early states. As Ben Carson’s stock has fallen, Cruz has been able to corral most of those voters,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ. “Congressman (Steve) King’s endorsement may not be the primary reason for this swing, but it certainly put a stamp on the Cruz surge in Iowa.”

About 1-in-7 voters in the poll sample are non-GOP voters who say they are likely to caucus as Republicans in February. Trump holds 30 percent of this group’s support, compared to 21 support for Cruz, 15 percent for Carson, and 10 percent for Rubio. About 7-in-10 voters in the sample, though, regularly cast GOP primary ballots. Among this more probable group of voters, Cruz (25%) and Rubio (21%) garner greater support than Trump (16%) and Carson (13%).

“Trump will need a huge organizational effort to get independent voters to show up in a contest where they have historically participated in small numbers. Without this dynamic, the underlying fundamentals appear to favor Cruz and Rubio,” said Murray.

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