The early bird is getting the worm when it comes to the 2016 Presidential race, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is reaping the benefits of being the first to officially enter the race. Recent public polling shows a surge of support for Cruz among Republican primary voters.
As Breitbart News reported, Cruz launched his campaign with a speech on March 23rd at Liberty University that invited his audience to imagine a future for our country where millions of “courageous conservatives” stood up to “reclaim the promise of America.” The message seems to be hitting home with Cruz’s conservative base, concerned about the party selecting another nominee they view as too moderate, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) or former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) were.
According to a memo sent to Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe from Chris Wilson, the CEO of WPA Opinion Research and Cruz’s Director of Research and Analytics, several recent polls taken since Cruz’s announcement show a positive trend for the senator, both nationally and in key early primary states.
The memo cites three national polls and polls from two early primary states as indicators of Cruz’s growing strength as a candidate. “Senator Ted Cruz’s announcement has resulted in very positive movement among Republican primary voters,” writes Wilson. “These are the only surveys released since Senator Cruz announced and are strong examples of the overall growth in support.”
A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted March 26th – 29th had Cruz jumping into second place, receiving 13 percent. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) leads with 20 percent, and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) was third with 12 percent.
A March 26th – 31st poll by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed Cruz in third place at 16 percent and within the margin of error (+/- 5.5 percent) of the top two candidates, Walker at 20 percent and Bush at 17 percent. Notably, this poll showed that Cruz had gained 11 points, and there were signs that he is consolidating the conservative vote, with Walker losing 5 points, neurosurgeon Ben Carson losing 8 points, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) losing 4 points.
A CBS News poll conducted March 21st – 24th asked Republican primary voters which candidates they were willing to consider supporting for President, and again, there was a positive trend for Cruz. He gained 14 points in response to this question since his announcement, as compared to smaller increases for Walker (5 points) and Bush (2 points).
As Breitbart News has reported, Bush especially may be hitting ceiling due to his moderate positions on several key issues. He is also facing increased opposition from conservative activists who view him as this election cycle’s “establishment” candidate.
Wilson’s memo also described encouraging signs in Gravis Marketing polls in two early primary states, Nevada and South Carolina. A March 27th Nevada poll showed that Cruz had gained 12 points from the previous month, moving into a tie with Walker at 18 percent. Walker “is clearly moving on a different trajectory” than Cruz, notes the memo, as he lost 9 points during the same period.
A March 26th – 27th poll in South Carolina showed another gain for Cruz, 11 points since February, bringing him into a statistical tie at 13 percent compared to Walker’s 17 percent and Bush’s 16 percent.
Another recent poll in New Hampshire before Cruz’s announcement showed that he was in the middle of the pack, earning support from 5 percent of poll respondents, but 24 percent remained undecided. New Hampshire Republican voters tend to be more moderate than Republicans nationally, but efforts like the recently-launched “603 Alliance” to unite behind one conservative candidate may work in Cruz’s favor there too.
Chris Perkins, Partner at WPA Opinion Research, has been Cruz’s pollster since his 2012 Senate campaign and tells Breitbart News he saw strongly positive signs in these poll results. “Since the Senator’s announcement, there’s been a clear bump in support for his candidacy,” said Perkins. “Republican and conservative voters are searching for their standard bearer and the positive bounce in the polls indicates they are moving toward his message.”
This week, Cruz is traveling in Iowa and South Carolina. For now, he is the only candidate officially in the race, but that will change this month, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is scheduled to make his announcement on April 7, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will follow on April 13.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.