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In the GOP lineup, Cruz now leads Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Key ObamaCare groups in limbo | Opioids sending thousands of kids into foster care | House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for opioid treatments US watchdog: 'We failed' to stem Afghan opium production Senate passes 6B defense bill MORE (Ky.), 20 percent to 17 percent, as New Jersey Gov Chris Christie takes 14 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has 11 percent, and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump Hillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract Lawmakers urge Google to drop partnership with Chinese phone maker Huawei MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump backs down in rare reversal Trump, GOP launch full-court press on compromise immigration measure Meadows gets heated with Ryan on House floor MORE (Wis.) tie at 10 percent. 

The PPP pollsters concluded that Cruz is now "viewed more broadly as the leader of the Republican Party," with numbers that crush Senate and House GOP leaders Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFlake threatens to limit Trump court nominees: report Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending MORE (Ky.) and Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE (Ohio). Cruz's numbers with "very conservative" primary voters are double those of Paul's, a whopping 34 percent to 17 percent. 

Many commenters and callers have slammed my assertion that Cruz snookered the grass roots by raising money, building an email list and his profile by pushing to defund ObamaCare when he knew it couldn't be done. He knew it would take supermajorities of two-thirds in the House and Senate to override a presidential veto, but never mentioned it. He knew it wasn't true to tell visitors to his website, DontfundObamaCare.com, that "Republicans in Congress can stop ObamaCare if they refuse to fund it." But that's what it says, while encouraging donations. 

If Republicans are worried about Cruz as a potential GOP nominee in 2016, they better get going before the primaries are stuck on Cruz control.

WILL WE DEFAULT IF REPUBLICANS REFUSE AN INCREASE IN THE DEBT CEILING? AskAB returns Tuesday, Oct. 1. Please send your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Thank you.