Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are running neck and neck for first place in the upcoming Iowa caucus, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll
which found both Republican presidential candidates are so strong they have twice the support of their nearest GOP competitor, Marco Rubio.
The poll also found that terrorism has replaced the economy and jobs as the top issue in the campaign, with those surveyed saying Trump is better equipped to fight terrorists than Cruz.
According to Quinnipiac, the new numbers look like this:
- Donald Trump — 28 percent
- Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — 27 percent
- Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — 14 percent
- Dr. Ben Carson — 10 percent
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — 5 percent
- Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — 4 percent
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — 3 percent
- Carly Fiorina — 3 percent
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich — 1 percent
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — 1 percent
The poll of Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants comes three weeks after a Nov. 24th Quinnipiac poll that shows Trump at 25 percent, 23 percent for Cruz, 18 percent for Carson and 13 percent for Rubio.
The new survey also found 30 of Iowa caucus-goers "would definitely not support" Trump, with 23 percent who would not support Bush.
"The tie at the top of the Iowa Republican Caucus reflects a change in priorities among voters," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"The last time Quinnipiac University polled, the economy was the top issue. Now it is terrorism, a subject on which Donald Trump gets the highest rating of any of the candidates," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"With seven weeks to go until the voting, whether Trump or Cruz or any of the other candidates prevails will likely be determined by which candidate has the best turnout operation."
Brown said that a "good sign" for Cruz in his battle for votes with Trump that voters view him "much more favorably than Trump," meaning the Lone Star State lawmaker "may have a higher potential upside."
Meanwhile, you can just about stick a fork in the campaign of Carson, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon turned novice politician.
"Dr. Ben Carson, who was on top by eight percentage points in Quinnipiac University's Oct. 22nd survey, is in fourth place today, with just 10 percent of the vote," Brown said. "Cruz appears to be the main beneficiary of Dr. Carson's apparent collapse."
The poll found terrorism is the most important issue for 30 percent of Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants in deciding their vote. Another 21 percent listed the economy and jobs; while 13 percent said foreign policy and 11 percent cited immigration.
In last month's poll, the economy and jobs was the top concern with 24 percent.
Trump can best handle terrorism, 33 percent of Republicans said, with 24 percent picking Cruz and 9 percent picking Rubio.
The billionaire developer is also best handling the economy, 45 percent of GOP Caucus participants believe, with 17 percent picking Cruz and 8 percent choosing Rubio.
The same poll found that Cruz is best on foreign policy matters with 27 percent, followed by Trump with 19 percent and Rubio with 13 percent.
On illegal immigration issues, Trump wins with 43 percent, with 21 percent for Cruz and 14 percent for Rubio.
According to the latest poll, Rubio would have "a good chance" of defeating the Democratic nominee in the general election, 66 percent of likely Republican Caucus participants say.
Another 65 percent say Cruz has a good chance of winning and 64 percent say Trump has a good chance. But Republicans were split — 49-47 percent — on whether Carson has a good chance of whipping the Democratic nominee.
Homegrown jihadists pose a greater threat to the nation, 50 percent of Republicans said, while 25 percent most fear terrorists among Syrian refugees and 17 percent most fear radicalized foreign visitors.
In addition, Republican Caucus-goers support by a 61-33 percent margin banning people on the U.S. terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.
The telephone poll of 874 Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants was conducted December 4-13 has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points.
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