Less than a week before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, a new poll released Tuesday shows that the election there may come down to the wire between businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Even though Trump won the prized endorsement from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Cruz caught criticism from Iowa’s governor last week, Cruz has remained resilient in the final leg of the race.
Trump leads Cruz 31 percent to 29 percent in the new Quinnipiac poll, but the two are far ahead of any of the other competitors in the race. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio places in a distant third with 13 percent, and no other candidate receives more than 7 points in the poll.
“Despite Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump and Gov. Terry Branstad’s criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz, and despite – or because of – Sen. Cruz’ ‘New York values’ comments, the Iowa Republican Caucus remains too close to call,” Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the poll, said in a statement released with the results.
The caucuses appeared to become competitive in late December and earlier this month when Cruz overtook Trump in averages of national polls. Third-place Rubio has received somewhat consistent, if stagnant, support in the 11 to 13 percent range over the last two months.
As Cruz has become more of a threat, the once-amicable relationship between the two candidates has soured. In the most recent Republican debate Jan. 14, Cruz defended himself against attacks from Trump, who accused the first-term senator of not being qualified to run for president because he was born in Canada. More recently, Cruz struck back at the businessman for having “New York values” – translation: big-city values that are out of tune with those of rural Iowa.
While the Iowa caucuses may be getting heated, the same cannot be said on the national level. In averages of national polls from Real Clear Politics, Trump leads second-place Cruz by 16.9 points with 36.2 percent of the vote. Cruz, with 19.3 percent, is followed by Rubio with 11 percent. No other candidates break double digits.
The Quinnipiac poll was conducted from Jan. 18-24 and contacted 651 likely Iowa Republican caucus participants. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points. The survey contacted voters through calls to land lines and cell phones.