Ted Cruz surges to first place in Iowa with 10-Point lead over Trump.

Ted Cruz Surges to First Place in Iowa With 10-Point Lead Over Trump

Ted Cruz Surges to First Place in Iowa With 10-Point Lead Over Trump

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Dec. 13 2015 9:16 AM

Ted Cruz Surges to First Place in Iowa With 10-Point Lead Over Trump

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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during the Sunshine Summit conference being held at the Rosen Shingle Creek on November 13, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Sen. Ted Cruz is gaining momentum and looks to be the man to beat in the Iowa caucuses that will be held in less than two months. The latest poll shows the Texas senator has surged to a 10-point lead over Donald Trump while support for Ben Carson has collapsed. Cruz is supported by 31 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers, according to the Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll. That marks “a 21 percentage-point leap that smashes records for upsurges in recent Iowa caucuses history,” notes the Des Moines Register. Support for Trump increased two points from the last poll to 21 percent, although he still fell short of his peak support of 23 percent in August.

Fox News has better news for Trump, with its latest poll showing Cruz with only a two-point lead over the real estate mogul among likely caucusgoers. That difference widens when only those Republicans who say they will definitely attend the caucus are considered, 32 percent to 25 percent.

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Support for Cruz may be even stronger than the Bloomberg/Des Moines Register numbers suggest at first glance. When the likely caucusgoers were asked for their second choice of candidate, 20 percent said Cruz. That means the firebrand senator has 51 percent support when first and second choices are considered.

Cruz’s surge in support comes largely at the expense of Ben Carson, who has seen support in Iowa plunge 15 points to 13 percent as “Iowa’s evangelicals appear to have picked the candidate they want to get behind,” notes Bloomberg. In October, Carson was in first place with 28 percent. That puts Carson barely above Sen. Marco Rubio, who is in fourth place with 10 percent, practically unchanged since October. Support for former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is also relatively flat at six percent, up one point from the previous poll.

Despite his huge war chest, Bush seems unable to break through and only has 11 percent support when first and second choices are considered. The problem is quite basic: Republican caucusgoers just don’t like the former governor, with 54 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Trump has often said that a win in Iowa could help propel his nomination. But the latest numbers suggest there would be a “protracted primary between Mr. Cruz as the choice of far-right Republicans, Mr. Trump as an anti-establishment outsider and perhaps a third candidate representing the center-right of the party,” notes the New York Times.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.