Ted Cruz Maintains Big Lead in Iowa

Here’s more for the “establishment is doomed” files:

Ted Cruz maintains a strong lead over Donald Trump in Iowa, according to the results of a poll released Sunday.

The Texas senator, in the CBS poll, grabbed the support of 40 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa. Trump is at 31 percent, followed by Marco Rubio at 12 percent and Ben Carson at 6 percent. Every other GOP candidate receives 2 percent or less in the poll.

The CBS poll follows last week’s Iowa Poll — which showed Cruz with a 10-point lead over Trump, 31 percent to 21 percent — and a Monmouth University poll that had him in first place with 24 percent among all Republican candidates.

Keep in mind that this is just in Iowa, of course. The average of national polls still shows Trump with a commanding 17-point lead. It’s also important to remember that victory in Iowa is in no way a predictor of national success as the vote moves to New Hampshire and beyond.

But at this point it’s not really important whether Trump or Cruz are in the lead because while the candidates themselves are different, their voters are cut from essentially the same cloth. Cruz has been drafting in Trump’s wake for months, hoping to take the lead once Trump slips. Unlike Rubio, Cruz isn’t appealing to a different electorate than Trump’s–he’s just waiting patiently to pounce on Trump’s base. Ben Carson’s collapse has served to benefit Trump and Cruz with a very similar group of voters that collectively seem to encompass more than 60% of the GOP primary electorate.

Meanwhile, Trump still maintains a dominant 15-point lead in New Hampshire, nor does the establishment have a much better chance in the deep south. It’s hard to see how Rubio or Bush could survive the media effect of losing the initial sequence of Iowa, New Hampshire and many southern states.

If the establishment doesn’t make some big and near-magical moves in January, this one is already a done deal.

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David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.