Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit Schumer: Trump's handling of North Korea 'all wrong' MORE (R-Texas) has jumped businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpEPA removes climate change page from website Trump claims millions in savings on Air Force One Presidents with the worst first 100 days MORE for a big lead in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus, according to a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Saturday.
Cruz paces the field with 31 percent support, followed by Trump at 21 percent, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 13 percent.
The last iteration of the poll, released Oct. 25, showed Carson with 28 percent support in the state, beating Trump out by 9 points, and Cruz with 10 percent support.
Cruz has been aggressively campaigning in the Hawkeye State, picking up key endorsements in the state earlier this week.
Fueling the anti-establishment firebrand’s 22-point ascent is his support among traditional Christian voters in the state.
He carries 45 percent of the evangelical vote in the state, as well as 39 percent of self-described tea partiers.
Twenty percent of all voters also listed Cruz as their second choice in the poll, suggesting he has a lot of untapped support and may not have peaked in the state.
Pollster Frank Luntz told the Register that it’s possible that Cruz “could win Iowa big – very big.”
As he watched his lead slip away in the state, Trump made a series of blunders that may have hastened Cruz’s rise.
The businessman attacked the Register the day before the influential newspaper released the poll, accusing the news outlet of dishonestly covering his presidential campaign.
“You have one of the most dishonest right here in your backyard,” Trump said at a rally in Des Moines on Friday. “The Des Moines Register is the worst. They’re very dishonest.”
He predicted he would not fare well in the poll, lamenting that “every time the Des Moines Register does a poll, I always do badly.”
“It’s my opinion that they don’t do it properly,” he added, suggesting the newspaper may be skewing its results.
As the poll was being released Saturday, Trump told his followers on Twitter not to trust it, pointing to a different poll that showed him up by double digits in Iowa.
New CNN Iowa poll --- Trump 33, Cruz 20. Everyone else way down! Don't trust Des Moines Register poll- biased towards Trump!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2015
Trump still polls well in the state on issues like the economy, illegal immigration and solving problems.
Forty-nine percent said they believe Trump knows how to “get things done,” while only 22 percent said the same of Cruz.
Carson led in the poll as recently as Oct. 23, when he carried 28 percent support in the state.
But amid terrorist attacks and the escalating fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the soft-spoken Carson has struggled to convince voters that he’s the best man to lead the nation during a time of war.
The poll of 400 likely Republican caucus-goers was conducted Dec. 7–10. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.
- Updated at 6:45 p.m.