Polls suggest the first debate debate last week received a bump in support for the Republican presidential candidate
“The Trump of the tropics” is heading into the Iowa caucuses with fresh momentum and solid leads in three polls published on Sunday.
Trump riffs on ‘un-American’ media as he readies to head to Iowa Read more
With less than a month to go before the Iowa caucuses on 1 February, the three telephone polls conducted in Iowa on Saturday, Sunday and Monday showed Republican frontrunner Donald Trump maintaining his lead with 17%, followed by Texas senator Ted Cruz with 14%.
Second place was claimed by Ben Carson with 9%, followed by Florida senator Marco Rubio with 8%.
Trump’s strongest support is among first-time caucus-goers – 45% of them identified as having no party preference – which could increase his efficiency among smaller numbers of voters.
The Iowa caucus has long been the first contest on the US presidential campaign trail, but with its host, the Iowa statehouse, controlled by Republicans – giving a sense of urgency – it has elevated the importance of Iowa among both candidates and the media.
According to the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, held on Saturday and Sunday, 73% of likely Iowa voters were extremely or very interested in the Republican contest.
It also showed that Cruz was inching up his advantage over Trump, the former reality television host.
Cruz was seen as more electable, as the president, by 21% of the likely voters, compared with 17% for Trump.
The Iowa caucuses are conducted in person. Despite the ability of millions of internet users to participate in the Democratic contest, registered Democrats in Iowa must be present at their precinct caucus in the weeks before the caucus itself.
Republicans are permitted to vote in both a caucus and a primary in that state, an option that the GOP did not implement in 2016. The caucus is a party-organised process in which delegates are assigned to caucus-goers’ preferred candidates. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote in a district, that district has a second contest at a later date.
On Monday, Cruz is scheduled to participate in three face-to-face debates, which means he is well positioned to build on his lead in Iowa. But some in his own camp have voiced concern about his standing in a debate where he will be joined on stage by Trump.
The race between the two camps has been defined by their public attacks on each other and their views on issues such as the Iran nuclear deal, the Iran nuclear deal, immigration, taxes and economic policy. In a message aimed at Iowa voters, Trump recently said he considered the senator Cruz a “puppet” and demanded that the end of that relationship.
Trump later reversed course, saying he would “never attack another person like that” again.
But some Cruz allies remained wary, noting Trump’s volatile tone during debates.
“This is the temper tantrum candidates want to fit into the debates,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the conservative group American Crossroads. “When Trump crosses the line, he makes the audience cringe. When the moderators get involved, they get a belligerent, hardline candidate – not a candidate who has a vision for the country.”