Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) hasn't even been in Washington for a full year, but Republicans already appear eager to tap him as the party's next presidential nominee.
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling released Friday found Cruz as the top choice for 2016 among Republicans nationwide. With 20 percent support, Cruz narrowly edged Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who claimed the support of 17 percent of GOP primary voters. New Jersery Gov. Chris Christie (R) trailed the two junior senators with 14 percent, followed by 11 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R). Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) each picked up 10 percent.
Cruz has asserted himself as a legitimate 2016 contender in recent months, gaining eight points among Republicans nationally since PPP's previous survey in July and emerging as the face of the party's conservative wing. According to PPP, Cruz won 34 percent among "very conservative" primary voters, easily outpacing Paul (17 percent) and Ryan (12 percent).
Cruz's 21-hour talkathon to protest funding for Obamacare began on Tuesday and spilled into Wednesday, meaning that the poll included at least some respondents who were aware of the stunt.
PPP conducted its survey on Wednesday and Thursday using automated interviews with 743 GOP primary voters. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.