With just 10 days remaining until the Iowa caucuses, four statewide polls have been released over the last 24 hours, which help cast the Republican race in a striking new light. Let's take a look at the surveys' findings, focusing only on the three most competitive candidates.
Loras College: (1) Donald Trump: 26%; (2) Ted Cruz: 25%; (3) Marco Rubio: 13%
Monmouth College/KBUR: (1) Ted Cruz: 27%; (2) Donald Trump: 25%; (3) Marco Rubio: 9%
CNN: (1) Donald Trump: 37%; (2) Ted Cruz: 26%; (3) Marco Rubio: 14%
Emerson College: (1) Donald Trump: 33%; (2) Ted Cruz: 23%; (3) Marco Rubio: 14%
By mid-December, it appeared that Ted Cruz had not only caught up to Trump in the Hawkeye State, but was actually in the driver's seat. There were multiple reports that that the first presidential nominating contest was "Cruz's to lose."
And while that may yet prove to be true, the Texas senator's position has slipped as Feb. 1 has grown closer. Of the four polls released yesterday, Cruz and Trump are effectively tied in two of the surveys, but Cruz trails by double digits in two others.
Last week, we discussed the possibility of Bernie Sanders winning both Iowa and New Hampshire on the Democratic side, and how that's likely to affect the Dems' 2016 race. It's probably time to consider a similar scenario on the Republican side, now that Trump is well positioned in the same two states.
The key difference between them is how the landscape looks following the first two contests. While Sanders faces higher hurdles, Trump is actually polling well in many upcoming primaries and caucuses that follow Iowa and New Hampshire. If the New York developer wins the first two, he'll be well positioned to make it three-for-three with a win in South Carolina soon after.
For all the speculation about a possible contested GOP convention this summer, we're faced with the possibility that the Republican nominating contest may be wrapped up quicker than the Democratic contest, turning a year's worth of conventional wisdom on its head.
Indeed, the fact that Trump may be on track to win both Iowa and New Hampshire is itself a remarkable detail. In the modern era, how many non-incumbent Republicans have won both states in the same cycle? None. It's never happened.
That said, some caution is in order. A lot can happen in 10 days -- we've seen it before -- and there are still some important questions surrounding Trump's operation and its ability to deliver. He looks strong now, but there are still another couple of debates coming up -- one before Iowa, another before New Hampshire -- and the race may yet change.
But as things stand, Trump supporters have reason to be optimistic.