Cruz Takes Iowa, Beats Out Evangelical Darling Ben Carson

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, during the Rising Tide Summit at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Scott Morgan)
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A Monmouth University Poll released Monday showed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), after weeks of ramped-up rhetoric, has taken Iowa from evangelical voter darling and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

This is the first time Cruz has led an early voting state in his nearly nine-month-long campaign.

Cruz earned the support of 24 percent of likely Republican caucusgoers in the poll. That is a five-point lead on real estate mogul Donald Trump, who earned 19 percent.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Carson round out the top four with 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively. No other candidates earned double digits.

In October, Carson handily led the Hawkeye State at 32 percent. That was a 14-point lead over Trump, who has led numerous national polls, and a 22-point lead over Cruz at the time.

Evangelical voters, a key demographic in the Iowa caucus, gave Cruz a 12-point margin over Trump in the latest poll, 30 percent to 18 percent. In the Monmouth poll from October, Carson led the evangelical vote with a 18-point margin.

Only 20 percent of Iowa Republican caucusgoers are set with their choice, according to the poll. The Iowa caucuses, the first in the nation, are set for Feb. 1.

The poll was conducted among 425 voters likely to attend the Iowa Republican caucus by live interviews on cell phones and landlines from Dec. 3-6. The margin of error was 4.8 percentage points.

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