Not so fast, Jon. While Ted Cruz is certainly in a good place right now, a month-and-a-half out from the Iowa Caucus, the results are far from certain.
Taking a closer look at two recent polls — the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Poll released on Saturday evening and the Quinnipiac University Poll released on Monday — shows that this race is extremely tight.
Looking at the DMR/Bloomberg poll, here is the number you have to keep in mind. Only 33 percent have said their mind is made up. Sixty-six percent said they could still be persuaded to support another candidate.
That is significant. Both Cruz and Donald Trump see over 40 percent of their supporters saying they will stick with their candidate (Trump: 45 percent; Cruz: 43 percent), but over half of their supporters could still change their minds.
In the Quinnipiac Poll, the number is a little smaller. According to Quinnipiac, 53 percent of those polled say they could still change their mind. Among Trump’s supporters, 58 percent said their mind was made up. Among Cruz’s supporters, half said their mind was made up.
Also, it needs to be pointed out that the Quinnipiac Poll has Trump ahead of Cruz by 1 point, 28 percent to 27 percent. The DMR/Bloomberg Poll had Cruz at 31 percent, with 21 percent leap from the previous poll, but it should be noted that Trump did not lose ground in that poll. He actually gained two points since their last poll, so he’s not collapsing so much as Cruz is benefiting from Carson’s collapse. Most polls confirm that Cruz is definitely surging, and I would argue he is a front runner in Iowa. The CNN/ORC poll taken of likely Iowa GOP caucus goers earlier this month, however, show them supporting Trump at 33 percent. I suspect both candidates are in reality somewhere in the twenties as far as percentage of support and are probably within 3 or 4 points of each other.
It has been said that polls are just a snapshot of where the race stands at the moment they were taken. That is true. The key statistic is how many are willing to change their minds.
Cruz being the front runner in Iowa will be subject to more scrutiny than ever before. We’ll see the opposition research come out. We’ll see the negative ads. He’s likely to be targeted during tonight’s debate. Will he withstand the onslaught? Time will tell.