A poll released Wednesday by Monmouth University shows Donald Trump leading Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] in Iowa 30 percent to 23 percent heading into the Feb. 1 caucuses.
[crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] follows in third with 16 percent. In fourth is Ben Carson with 10 percent. No other candidate polls above five percent.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said, “Turnout is basically what separates Trump and Cruz right now.” He added, “Trump’s victory hinges on having a high number of self-motivated, lone wolf caucusgoers show up Monday night.”
The poll showed that Cruz leads Trump 28 percent to 23 percent when it comes registered Republicans with a history of voting in state primaries. Trump leads among registered independents with 50 percent of support. In Iowa, voters can change their party registration at the caucus location.
Projections of the caucus results change with different turnout estimations. Current estimates have 170,000 voters showing up to vote on Feb. 1. A record 122,000 voted in 2012. If 130,000 Republican voters caucused, Cruz and Trump would be tied at 26 percent. If Trump’s huge rallies translate into a large voter turnout of, say, 200,000 voters, Trump would lead Cruz 32 percent to 21 percent.
The alleged strength of Cruz’s ground game is evident in the poll. Of the 45 percent of likely caucusgoers who have been contacted by a campaign, 25 percent have been contacted by Cruz. Only 13 percent by Trump. Of those voters who haven’t been contacted by a campaign, 35 percent will caucus for Trump, 19 percent for Cruz.
The results of Cruz’s strong Christian pitch in Iowa was clear in the poll results. He leads the evangelical vote 32 percent to Trump’s 25 percent, but Trump leads among non-evangelical voters 32 percent to 12 percent.
Just 8 percent say they are undecided, though 38 percent of likely voters said they are keeping their mind open in the final days leading up to the caucus.
The telephone poll of 500 voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent, and was conducted before Trump announced he would not be participating in Thursday’s Fox News debate.