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In the GOP lineup, Cruz now leads Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year Despite amnesty, DACA bill favors American wage-earners 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 RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year 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 McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (Ky.) and Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism 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.