Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio continue to surge in the polls. According to the latest national poll from Quinnipiac, Cruz has surged to third place with 16%. That’s the highest score ever for the Republican senator from Texas.
Rubio too is doing better than ever before: he’s now in second place with 17%. This means that Cruz and Rubio are effectively tied and both gunning for the important 20% threshold.
Ben Carson also polls 16%. This means he’s tied with Cruz and virtually tied with Rubio. The difference, though, is that this is absolutely bad news for the retired neurosurgeon. Not too long ago, Carson was tied with Donald Trump for first place. While Rubio and Cruz are on their way up, the good doctor is now on his way down. The longer this downfall continues, the more likely it becomes that he may drop out before the Iowa caucuses even take place.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues to lead the field nationally. He is supported by 27% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters. Although that’s certainly good news for the billionaire businessman, he too has reason to worry about the rise of Cruz and Rubio:
The main problem for Trump is that Cruz is surging among Tea Party voters, “very conservative” voters, and evangelicals. These are exactly the kind of voters a candidate needs to win in Iowa. Trump is still doing relatively well among these members of the conservative base, but his numbers aren’t improving, whereas Cruz’s are.
Remarkably, Trump’s main supporters are Republican-leaning voters who call themselves moderates. Democrats and the Republican establishment have said — for months — that Trump’s angry rhetoric would turn such voters off. If this poll is anything to go by, that’s pertinently untrue. He’s performing better among moderates than anyone else; Rubio and Jeb Bush (who many still consider the establishment’s favorite) aren’t even close.
The main challenge for Rubio will be to pick up a part of Trump’s and Carson’s moderates and “somewhat conservative” voters, while Cruz will have to gun for their very conservative, Tea Party and evangelical supporters. If both men succeed at that mission, they will pose a serious threat to Trump — not only in Iowa, but in every other state as well.