Senator Ted Cruz surged past Donald Trump in the Iowa polls this week, a stronghold the billionaire businessman had previously held onto since descending on the state fair in August in his helicopter.
An average of Iowa state polling by Real Clear Politics shows
that Cruz has staged a massive surge since October, rising from less than 10 percent to 26 percent. On December 12, Cruz pulled past Trump, whose numbers have fallen this month.
He's also up in the national polls
as well, jumping to second place overall behind Trump last week.
Gathered below are nine reasons Ted Cruz has surged in both national and state polling, dethroning Trump in the country's first primary state.
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1. Support from Evangelical community
— Roughly 42 percent of Republican voters in Iowa identify as an Evangelical Christian, and Cruz has in recent weeks scooped up many key endorsements from faith leaders across the state, ABC News reported
2. Tea Party cred
— Ted Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 during a Republican wave election fueled in large part by the Tea Party movement. Much of the Tea Party's activist base were concentrated in Midwestern states like Iowa, so it's natural to see many voters there opting for Cruz over Trump. The real estate mogul was, in fact, previously registered as a Democrat as recently as 2009, The Smoking Gun reported
3. He refuses to mudsling
— According to The New York Times
, "after privately raising questions about Mr. Trump’s judgment at a fund-raiser, [Cruz] has done nothing but heap praise on his rival ever since."
4. He responds to attacks with humor
— On Sunday, Trump said during a Fox News interview that Cruz was "a little bit of a maniac" in regard to "the way he's dealt with the Senate." That same day, Cruz responded by tweeting
a clip from the movie "Flashdance" in which the movie's famous protagonist dances to the pop hit "Maniac." Along with the video, Cruz wrote, "In honor of my friend @realDonaldTrump and good-hearted #Maniacs everywhere."
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5. Voters think he can beat Hillary Clinton
— In a polling average of hypothetical election matchups compiled by Real Clear Politics
, both Trump and Cruz lose to Clinton. Cruz, however, is within striking distance of beating Clinton, while Trump — a man whose unfavorable rating among the electorate is famously high — would lose to Clinton by as much as 10 points, according to some polls.
6. He's establishment, but has an outsider's temperament
— Many Republican voters have thrown their support behind this election cycle's so-called "outsider" candidates who've never held public office — Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina. Other voters have favored so-called "establishment" candidates like Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. While Sen. Cruz is technically part of the establishment, he is considered a firebrand — much like the outsiders — and "some wonder if it could be Cruz that emerges as the compromise candidate," CNN reported
7. He's a fighter
— Ted Cruz became the face of the 2013 government shutdown when he refused to back down during a fight about Obamacare. That same no-compromise demeanor has remained a central part of Cruz's presidential campaign, as he's shown no willingness to back down on issues like opposing same-sex marriage, upholding the Second Amendment, and opposing illegal immigration.
8. He's got grassroots support
— As CNN reported
, Cruz "has raised the lion's share of his money far from the New York-to-Washington corridor," and continues to receive a bevy of small campaign donations from real, everyday Americans.
9. He understands the U.S. Constitution
— Cruz graduated from Harvard Law School in the mid-1990s, and much of his career has been built on jobs that called for a deep understanding of the Constitution, and what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote it. He has previously served as an associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice, as well as Solicitor General of Texas from 2003 to 2008.
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