Dec 7, 2015

Evangelical Voters Push Cruz Ahead of Trump in New Iowa Poll

Ted Cruz speaks Saturday at the Rising Tide Summit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Scott Morgan/AP)

(WSJ)—Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has surpassed celebrity businessman Donald Trump as the top pick for the party nomination among Iowa Republicans, a new poll shows, a result of his consolidation of support among the state's influential evangelical Christian voters.

The Monmouth University Poll of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers released Monday found that 24% supported Mr. Cruz, followed by 19% backing Mr. Trump, 17% for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and 13% supporting former neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush received 6% of the support, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul received 4%, and former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich came in with 3% each. No other candidate cracked 2%; 4% of voters said they were undecided.

Iowa holds its caucuses on Feb. 1, the first nominating contest of the election cycle. On Saturday, five GOP candidates addressed the Rising Tide Summit in Cedar Rapids, one of the last multi-candidate events in Iowa before voting begins.

The poll and other recent surveys have shown that support for Mr. Carson has declined while Mr. Cruz has surged in the state. Mr. Carson has struggled on foreign policy questions in recent campaign forums, while Mr. Cruz has secured endorsements from a roster of conservatives including influential Iowa Rep. Steven King.

In October, Mr. Carson led Monmouth's survey with 32% of support of Iowa GOP caucus-goers, while Mr. Cruz trailed with 10%. In two months, Mr. Cruz's support jumped 14 percentage points while Mr. Carson's declined by 19 points.

"As Ben Carson's stock has fallen, Cruz has been able to corral most of those voters," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, N.J.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump's support among Iowa Republicans has dropped four points since August, when he and Mr. Carson held the lead in the Monmouth poll with 23%.

In the new poll, Mr. Cruz earned 30% of support from Iowa's influential evangelical Christian voters, followed by Mr. Trump with 18%, Mr. Rubio at 16% and Mr. Carson with 15%. Mr. Carson was the top pick of evangelicals in October....

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