Poll: Ted Cruz's Support Surges After Campaign Launch

Poll: Ted Cruz's Support Surges After Campaign Launch
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Being the first Republican to officially declare his campaign for president has given Ted Cruz a boost, according to a new poll.

The Texas senator came in third place among nine presidential contenders with 16 percent support, according to a survey from Public Policy Polling (D). In a similar poll near the end of February, Cruz was near the bottom with just 5 percent support.

The top of the poll was similar to a month ago, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the way with 20 percent backing from Republican primary voters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is second with 17 percent and Cruz now close behind.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and neurosurgeon Ben Carson are tied with 10 percent – a significant drop for Carson, who was in second place with 18 percent in the February poll. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio both had 6 percent support, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry rounded out the field with 4 and 3 percent, respectively.

Cruz’s sizable jump in the poll is likely attributable to his March 23 speech at Liberty University, where he officially announced his candidacy for the White House. The first-term senator is well known for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and leading the effort to shut down the government over the health care law in 2013.

It will be clear in a few weeks whether other candidates see similar jumps after their announcements. Paul is expected to declare his bid next week, and Rubio has an April 13 date booked for an announcement.

Cruz’s quick rise and Carson’s decline follow a pattern similar to what happened during the 2012 Republican primary cycle, according to Public Policy Polling President Dean Debnam.

“A couple of months ago Ben Carson was the hot thing in the field, now Ted Cruz is and Carson’s support is drying up,” Debnam said. “It’s very reminiscent of the boom and bust we saw with various candidates four years ago. And Jeb Bush remaining steady as others rise and fall is also similar to how things went for Mitt Romney went that cycle.”

The poll of 443 Republican primary voters, conducted March 26-31, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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