Poll: Trump and Cruz in dead heat in Iowa

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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSanders's Nevada director floated two-sided coins for tiebreaks: report Trump hires ex-Cruz aide as communications director GOP senator on Trump’s VP hunt: 'I know nothing’ MORE and Ted CruzTed CruzTrump hires ex-Cruz aide as communications director Overnight Tech: Judiciary leaders question internet transition plan | Clinton to talk tech policy | Snowden's robot | Trump's big digital push Kasich doesn't expect to speak at convention MORE are running neck and neck in Iowa 10 days before the caucuses there, a new poll finds.

According to a Loras College survey released Thursday, Trump takes 26 percent support over Cruz's 25 percent. That’s well within the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

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The senator from Texas held a healthy lead in the mid-December version of the poll, with 30 percent support then to Trump's 23 percent. Around the same time, Cruz overtook Trump in the RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls, but Trump has regained the top spot a month later, holding a slim 2.2 percentage point advantage.

Cruz, who in his short time in Washington has made countless enemies, has been under constant assault from rivals and critics since his rise to the top of the primary polls, potentially contributing to his month-over-month decline in Iowa.

Pro-ethanol groups have been hammering Cruz for his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard, and this week Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who has not endorsed a candidate, made the surprising move of urging caucusgoers to back anyone but Cruz.

Meanwhile, Cruz’s rivals have raised questions about his eligibility for the White House because he was born in Canada to an American mother. And several unflattering stories have surfaced about Cruz failing to report loans he obtained from big Wall Street banks for his 2012 Senate campaign.

Still, Cruz remains out front in Iowa, where many believe his top-flight organization and support from evangelical voters will propel him to victory  on Feb. 1.

A plurality of voters in the Loras poll, 38 percent, said they expect Cruz will win the Iowa caucuses. Trump came in second place on that question, with 29 percent saying they believe he’ll win.

Forty-three percent of likely Republican caucusgoers said they could still change their minds on who to support before election day, and Cruz could stand to benefit here; nearly half of those polled said he’s their preferred second choice.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe Trail 2016: Warren takes VP batting practice Abortion ruling roils race for the White House, Senate US, Mexico have mutual ambassadors for first time in over a year MORE (R-Fla.) is in a distant third place in Iowa, with 13 percent support.

“Iowa voters have surprised in the past, so it is always wise to watch for out for a last-minute push by someone from back in the field,” said Loras polling director Christopher Budzisz. “Senator Rubio is the one most within striking distance at the moment, and 10 days is something of an eternity in caucus politics.”

Rounding out the field are former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, at 8 percent support, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at 6 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, at 4 percent. No other candidate registers more than 3 percent support.

The Loras College survey of 500 likely GOP caucusgoers was conducted between Jan. 13 and Jan. 18 and has a 4.4-point margin of error.

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