Cruz Tops Trump, Loras College Poll Finds

With seven weeks to go before the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has emerged as the leader of the crowded Republican field.  Real estate mogul Donald Trump finds himself in second, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Senator Marco Rubio the only other candidates with double-digit support as a first choice.  Jeb Bush rounds out the top five and is the only other candidate whose support reaches outside the poll’s margin of error, in the latest poll conducted December 7-10.

It has been a good several weeks in Iowa for the junior senator from Texas.  Firebrand conservative Iowa Congressman Steve King and noted Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats endorsed Cruz recently.

“Rep. King and Mr. Vander Plaats are all well-known and influential voices within the social conservative and evangelical base here in Iowa.  And, it is this base which can deliver a victory or defeat on caucus night,” commented Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz, Ph.D.  Senator Cruz also received the endorsement several months ago of Iowa-based radio talk-show host Steve Deace, another prominent conservative opinion leader within the state.

Besides Cruz’s launch to the top, the other stories from the latest Loras College Poll are Trump’s resiliency and the decline in support for Carson.  Despite expectations by pundits throughout the summer and fall, support for Trump has not diminished in Iowa.

“While Mr. Trump finds himself behind Senator Cruz in our current poll, it is worth noting that Trump’s support has remained consistently strong relative to the field, and he is the only other candidate above 20 percent support.  Mr. Trump’s support has proven quite resilient and much more stable than many other candidates’,” Budzisz remarked.

Carson, the leader on the last Loras Poll in late October, has seen his support slide significantly.

“It has been a rough several weeks for Dr. Carson, and this is reflected in our current polling.  As foreign policy emerged as a more prominent part of the campaign, so did the questions about Dr. Carson’s foreign policy preparedness. Coupled with a successful challenge for the evangelical and social conservative base by Senator Cruz, it is no surprise to see Dr. Carson’s support diminish.  However, his favorability rating among Republican voters remains very strong, so I don’t think there is much evidence to suggest that voters no longer like or respect Dr. Carson, just that they intend to vote for someone else,” Budzisz remarked.

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