Ted Cruz has spent the last several months executing a plan that, he and his team believed, would propel him into the top tier of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Right about now, that plan is working out quite nicely.
Over the weekend, a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll was released, and it's fair to say the Hawkeye State has a new frontrunner.
1. Ted Cruz: 31% (up from 10% in the same poll in mid-October)
2. Donald Trump: 21% (up from 19%)
3. Ben Carson: 13% (down from 28%)
4. Marco Rubio: 10% (up from 9%)
5. Jeb Bush: 6% (up from 5%)
J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the survey, described the results as a "big shakeup," adding, "This is a sudden move into a commanding position for Cruz."
There are some other recent polls that show Trump still ahead in the state, but Selzer's DMR/Bloomberg poll is generally considered the gold standard in Iowa polling.
The results are largely in line with the results of a Fox News poll in Iowa released yesterday. (This is the first Fox poll of Iowa Republicans, so there is no trend line.)
1. Ted Cruz: 28%
2. Donald Trump: 26%
3. Marco Rubio: 13%
4. Ben Carson: 10%
Note, that this is the third consecutive poll out of Iowa that shows the Texas senator leading in the state, suggesting he's now the favorite to win the first caucuses on Feb. 1, now just 48 days away.
At the national level, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was released yesterday, and it found the Republican race shaping up this way:
1. Donald Trump: 27% (up from 23% in the same poll in late October)
2. Ted Cruz: 22% (up from 10%)
3. Marco Rubio: 15% (up from 11%)
4. Ben Carson: 11% (down from 29%)
5. Jeb Bush: 7% (down from 8%)
At this point, Carson's support is collapsing just about everywhere, and the bulk of his supporters are, as expected, gravitating to Cruz.
As for the overall frontrunner, while Trump appears to have lost his advantage in Iowa, let's not mistake this for some kind of backlash against his recent extremism. Each of the polls noted above have something important in common: they show Trump gaining, not losing, support.
That said, Cruz's surge in support is clearly the key development in campaign politics. He's now favored to win in Iowa, and he's fairly well positioned as a top-tier contender in many of the March 1 primaries, especially in the South.
A month ago, the GOP's most competitive candidates were a far-right quartet -- Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Cruz -- with the Texan looking like the fourth of four. As of this morning, it makes far more sense to see Cruz in the #2 slot, and as a Republican who may very well win his party's nomination.