by Paul Dupont
Maggie, it might be a tad premature to be announcing Ben Carson as the GOP’s new front runner.
A new PPP Iowa poll released yesterday—the first post-CNBC debate Iowa poll—shows Donald Trump and Carson in a statistical dead heat, with 22 percent and 21 percent support, respectively. This is the first major poll showing Trump with even the slightest lead in Iowa since late September.
Meanwhile, the big mover in Iowa since the debate appears to be Ted Cruz. Following his stellar performance last week, Cruz has moved up to third in the PPP poll with 14 percent, the largest number he’s had in any major Iowa poll since he joined the race. Marco Rubio was the only other candidate to crack double digits, with 10 percent.
Cruz’s rise seems to be coming at the expense of Carson. Although some (including Cruz himself) expected the Texas Senator to eventually siphon support from Trump, the Cruz campaign’s focus on social issues, particularly religious liberty, as well as other issues of strong importance to Evangelicals has aligned more closely with Carson. And as a recent Wall Street Journal article points out, Carson has been drawing much of his support from “values voters” and very conservative Republicans, while Trump’s support has come more from voters who describe themselves as fiscal conservatives or moderate/liberal Republicans. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to conclude that Cruz’s surge and Carson’s slump are related, since both candidates are courting the same group of voters.
On a final, unrelated note, trailing only the top four candidates at 6 percent support in the PPP poll is another unexpected candidate: Bobby Jindal. Shane Vander Hart argued here not long ago that Jindal has been extremely active in Iowa and should not be overlooked. Now virtually tied with higher profile candidates Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, and Carly Fiorina, Jindal may be on pace to peak at just the right moment in Iowa, a la Rick Santorum in 2012. He will certainly be a candidate to watch as we close in on the caucuses.
Paul Dupont is the managing editor for ThePulse2016.com.