Ted Cruz Surges In New Iowa Polls

With Ben Carson's brief rise apparently halted, the Texas senator gets his "turn in the spotlight."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is vaulting into the Iowa caucus' first tier of Republican candidates, a survey released Tuesday suggests.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Cruz taking 23 percent to Donald Trump's 25 percent among likely GOP caucus-goers. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stand at 18 percent and 13 percent respectively, with the field's 10 other candidates all polling at or below 5 percent.

Cruz's support has risen 13 points since Quinnipiac's survey of the race last month, mostly at the expense of Carson, whose support fell by 10 points. Trump's numbers, which dipped in October, have largely recovered.

"Last month, we said it was Dr. Ben Carson's turn in the spotlight. Today, the spotlight turns to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas," Quinnipiac's assistant poll director, Peter Brown, said in a statement.

Nearly three quarters of likely GOP voters in Iowa hold a favorable opinion of Cruz, who's also considered the candidate best able to handle foreign policy. Just 5 percent say they would definitely not support him, a lower level of resistance than for any of his rivals in the state.

The Cruz campaign began rolling out its biggest-yet Iowa ad buy, $315,000 worth of television and radio ads, in mid-November, according to the Des Moines Register. Since then, two surveys have shown his numbers rising -- the Quinnipiac poll, and an earlier CBS/YouGov poll showed him polling at 21 percent. 

HuffPost Pollster's average of all publicly released polling, when set to be more sensitive to the latest data, shows Cruz rising to second place with 23 percent. (The default version of the chart, which is slower to react to changes in the race, continues to show him in fourth place.)

Cruz, along with Rubio, is increasingly well-liked nationally, and widely seen as one of the candidates best positioned to gain support if Trump and Carson begin to falter.

The Texas senator, who's viewed by Republicans as straddling the line between outsider cred and establishment appeal,  has turned in consistently well-received debate performances, and recently surpassed the 10 percent mark in an average of national surveys.

As recent history proves, though, leading Iowa polls in November is no guarantee of winning the caucus the following year. Nor is a caucus victory necessarily a launching pad to the nomination. In November 2011, Newt Gingrich briefly surged in Iowa before plunging to a fourth-place finish. Rick Santorum, who eventually prevailed in Iowa, struggled to widen his constituency beyond his evangelical base in many subsequent states.

Quinnipiac surveyed 600 likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers between Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, using live interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones.

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