Trump maintains narrow lead over Cruz in Iowa

He's up by two percentage points

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Iowa Republican caucus race is going down to the wire with Donald Trump maintaining a two percentage point lead over Ted Cruz.

With the race now in its finals week, the New York real estate mogul leads the Texas senator 31 percent to 29 percent — the same as when Quinnipiac University polled likely GOP caucusgoers at the beginning of the month.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is in third place with no other candidate above 7 percent in the poll of 651 Iowa likely Republican caucus participants with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent. The poll was conducted Jan. 18 to 24 using live interviewers calling landlines and cellphones.

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“Despite Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump and Gov. Terry Branstad’s criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz, and despite — or because of — Sen. Cruz’ ‘New York values’ comments, the Iowa Republican caucus remains too close to call,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Cruz and Trump have been running one-two in the Q-Poll since November when retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson began his slide from 28 percent and the lead into single digits. Trump led Cruz in those three months.

The poll follows those last week by Monmouth College and Loras College in Dubuque. The Monmouth poll for KBUR radio in Burlington found Cruz leading Trump 27 percent to 25 percent. Carson was third at 11 percent and Rubio polled 9 percent.

With the caucuses Feb. 1, “it all comes down to turnout,” Brown said.

“One week before the caucuses gather, the question is which candidate has the best field organization,” he said. “If the events of the last two weeks haven’t moved the needle, one wonders what would change it in the next six days.”

One factor, however, is that although only 2 percent remain undecided, four in 10 likely caucusgoers told Quinnipiac they still might change their mind.

“This is an especially volatile race,” Brown said.

One other factor is that 24 percent said they “would definitely not support” Trump, but only 12 percent said ‘no way’ to Cruz.

One thing Brown is more certain of is that it is “increasingly evident, the conservative wing of the Republican Party, at least in Iowa, is carrying the day.”

Cruz is taking the lion’s share of the right wing among Iowa likely Republican caucusgoers, with Trump taking a good chunk and only a few scraps for the rest of the pack.

Quinnipiac found Cruz leads Trump:

• 50 — 34 percent among self-professed Tea Party members

• 39 — 27 percent among white, born-again Evangelical Christians

• 49 — 29 percent among voters describing themselves as “very conservative”

Trump leads Cruz:

•29 — 21 percent among self-identified “somewhat conservative” voters

•37 — 6 percent among voters claiming to be “moderate” or “liberal”

The economy and jobs is the most important issue in deciding their vote 27 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers said. Another 18 percent listed terrorism, 11 percent cited foreign policy and 10 percent pointed to the federal deficit.

Rounding out the GOP field, Jeb Bush polled 4 percent, Carson 6, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie 3, former CEO Carly Fiorina 1, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 2, Ohio Gov. John Kasich 1, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 5, and a goose egg for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

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