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Cruz Opens Big Lead in Iowa, Trump Tops in New Hampshire, South Carolina

A new CBS poll shows Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has opened a strong 9 point lead over Donald Trump in Iowa, the first state to vote in the 2016 nominating contest.

Cruz has the support of 40 percent of likely caucus goers, followed by Trump with 31 percent.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a distant third, with 12 percent support. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is fourth with just 6 percent support. All other Republican candidates are at 2 percent or less, including Jeb Bush, whose allied super PAC, Right to Rise, has spent millions on advertising in the caucus state.

Together, Trump and Cruz draw more than 70 percent support from likely caucus-goers in Iowa.

Trump, meanwhile, dominates the Republican race in New Hampshire, earning 32 percent support from likely primary voters. Trump’s vote, in fact, is double the support of Ted Cruz who, with 14 percent support, is in second place. Rubio is in third, with 13 percent, followed closely by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 11 percent and Ohio Governor John Kasich at 8 percent.

Jeb Bush is sixth in New Hampshire, with just 6 percent support. Bush, Christie and Kasich have all spent considerable sums advertising in New Hampshire. All three campaigns, or super PACs affiliated with them, have spent several million dollars advertising in the first primary state. Christie and Kasich have clearly gained from the spending, while Bush has lost ground in the Granite State.

Trump also dominates the field in South Carolina, which votes on February 20th, soon after Iowa and New Hampshire. Trump leads with 38 percent, followed again by Cruz with 23 percent. Rubio is 3rd, with 12 percent, followed by Carson with 9 percent and Bush with 7 percent.

In all three states, one issue dominates the political discussion; national security and terrorism. In each state, at least 70 percent of all voters believe America is becoming “more dangerous and insecure.” More than 60 percent of Republicans in each state list national security as the most important issue in 2016.

While the first votes are still several weeks away, voters’ preferences in all three contests are solidifying. More than 60 percent for Republicans in all three states say their minds are made up and are unlikely to change their support. In Iowa, just 25 percent of Republicans say they might still change their minds. In South Carolina and New Hampshire, only about a third of Republicans say they may still change their minds.

After 5 debates and months of intense campaigning, the Republican field is nearing the final turn before voting begins in early February. Trump and Cruz are separating from the pack, with Rubio running a distant third. In New Hampshire, though, the middle of the pack is becoming more crowded.

The race in New Hampshire, in fact, is a reversal of recent political history. Traditionally, several conservative candidates have fought for a clear shot at the establishment frontrunner. This year, however, the establishment candidates are clawing at each other to take on anti-establishment frontrunners.

History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. This year, the rhythm is playing a conservative tune.

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