ted-cruz-oskaloosaThe latest Public Policy Poll of Iowa Republicans is out which shows U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) with the biggest gain in the last six weeks in Iowa since they last polled.

The current standing is:

1. Mr. Donald Trump – 22%
2. Dr. Ben Carson – 21%
3. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) – 14%
4. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – 10%
5. (Tie) Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal – 6%
7. (Tie) Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Mrs. Carly Fiorina – 5%
9. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 3%
10. (Tie) Ohio Governor John Kasich, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) – 2%
13. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – >1%
14. (Tie) Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore and former New York Governor George Pataki – 0%

Compared to their last Iowa poll in mid-September Trump’s support is down 2 points (from 24% to 22%), while Carson’s support is up 4 points (from 17% to 21%).  Cruz has seen the biggest gains from 8% to 14%, and his favorability rating has improved from 51/23 to 62/16. Cruz leads the field in Iowa among Tea Party voters (34% to 24% for Trump and 22% for Carson), and voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative’ (24% to 22% for Carson and 21% for Trump.). The other candidates who have gained ground are Marco Rubio (from 8% to 10%),  Jindal (from 4% to 6%), and Christie (from 1% to 3%).

Carson is the most popular of the Republican candidates in Iowa with 74% of GOP primary voters viewing him favorably to only 13% with a negative opinion. Jindal (60/18) and Rubio (60/20) have the highest favorability ratings of any candidate in Iowa other than Carson and Cruz.

Fiorina, according to this poll, has the largest decline. After the September debate she polled at 13% and with a 62/15 favorability rating. She has dropped eight points to 5% and although her favorability rating has dipped some to 55/20.

Bush is not getting any traction in Iowa. His poll numbers dropped from 8% to 5%, and his favorability rating is dismal with only 30% of GOP voters who see him favorably compared to 43% with a negative opinion.

This poll leaves me with some questions as it shows the race is very much in flux. Has Carson hit a peak? With fewer Iowa Republicans having interest in watching the debates will this help candidates who have a greater presence and/or organization in the state?  Trump is in decline in Iowa according to the last few polls, but how fast will he decline and who will benefit? It seems like Cruz is in position to do just that.

Jindal now leads Bush and Fiorina.  His favorability is higher than Huckabee’s, and Huckabee seems to be plateaued.  I still feel pretty confident Jindal is the dark horse candidate in Iowa.

Rubio saw a bump from the last debate, and appears to be benefitting from Bush’s decline. Rubio now leads Bush in New Hampshire as well.  One has to wonder how much longer he will remain in the race.  Why is Pataki staying in since he’s polling dead last in Iowa and in New Hampshire? Graham’s has zero movement in either of the first two states and only has 3.3% in his own home state.  Paul’s numbers haven’t improved in Iowa or in New Hampshire, should Paul drop out one has to assume Cruz would benefit the most.

Santorum doesn’t appear to have much traction in Iowa, but considering he was down in the polls until a month before winning the Iowa Caucus I suspect he’ll stay in until then.

I would pick Bush, Pataki, Graham and Paul as the four candidates most likely to drop before Iowa.

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