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In the GOP lineup, Cruz now leads Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework 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 Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (Fla.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term 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 McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (Ky.) and Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner‘Lone wolf’ characterization of mass murderers is the epitome of white privilege Pelosi urges Ryan to create select committee on gun violence Ex-congressman Michael Grimm formally announces bid for old seat 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.