New Poll: Cruz Emerges as Clear Rival to Trump

trump_cruzDonald Trump hasn’t given up his hold as the GOP favorite yet, but Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are now nipping at his heels.

A new poll released yesterday by YouGov shows Trump leading the pack as the first choice among likely Republican primary voters at 35 percent, followed by Cruz at 19 percent and Rubio at 14 percent.  Yet only 12 percent chose Trump as their second preference while 24 percent named Cruz as their second choice, putting Trump only 4 points ahead of Cruz as the voters’ first or second choice.

The most significant aspect of this new poll, conducted from December 18-21, shows that when Republican primary voters had to choose between only Trump and Cruz, they were nearly as likely to choose Cruz as they were to pick Trump — 49 percent for Cruz and 51 percent for Trump. When Cruz and Rubio face off, Cruz leads Rubio by 18 points. Below are the full results from the poll:

  • Donald Trump: 35% first choice, 12% second choice
  • Ted Cruz: 19%,  24%
  • Marco Rubio: 14%,  14%
  • Ben Carson: 7%,  9%
  • Rand Paul: 6%,  3%
  • Jeb Bush: 5%,  5%
  • Chris Christie: 3%,  8%
  • Carly Fiorina: 3%,  7%
  • John Kasich: 3%,  3%
  • Mike Huckabee: 1%,  3%
  • Rick Santorum: 1%,  1%
  • Jim Gilmore: 1%
  • Lindsey Graham: 1%, (dropped out of race on Dec. 21st)
  • George Pataki: 1%

While Carson may have dropped to fourth in general favorability polling, he still holds the top spot among likely GOP primary voters when it comes to honesty and integrity. After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, however, the low confidence that voters have in his ability to deal with national security is dragging him down.

Cruz leads the top four candidates in this department, with voters feeling most confident in his ability to deal with terrorism and in his preparedness to be commander-in-chief.  Trump still holds the top spot for dealing with immigration, but Cruz is a close second.

“Is honest and trustworthy”:

  • Carson: 72%
  • Cruz: 62%
  • Rubio: 57%
  • Trump: 55%

“Confident in candidate’s ability to deal wisely with terrorism”:

  • Cruz: 66%
  • Trump: 63%
  • Rubio: 53%
  • Carson: 33%

“Is ready to be commander in chief”:

  • Cruz: 65%
  • Trump: 58%
  • Rubio: 54%
  • Carson: 33%

“Confident in candidate’s ability to deal wisely with immigration”:

  • Trump: 67%
  • Cruz: 62%
  • Carson: 47%
  • Rubio: 45%

Cruz has clearly emerged as the alternative to Trump. If the Texas Senator can hold on to his newfound lead among the other candidates, Trump may be looking at a much closer race than he expected.

Anna Pfaff is a former researcher for American Principles Project and a student at Hillsdale College.