PPP's newest national poll finds Ted Cruz is now the top choice of Republican primary voters to be their candidate for President in 2016. He leads the way with 20% to 17% for Rand Paul, 14% for Chris Christie, 11% for Jeb Bush, 10% each for Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, 4% for Bobby Jindal, and 3% each for Rick Santorum and Scott Walker.
Cruz has gained 8 points since our last national 2016 poll in July while everyone else has more or less stayed in place. He's made himself the face of a government shutdown over Obamacare, and the Republican base supports that by a 64/20 margin. It's not surprising that Republicans identifying as 'very conservative' support a shutdown 75/10, but even the moderate wing of the party supports it by a 46/36 margin.
Cruz is leading the GOP field based especially on his appeal to 'very conservative' primary voters, who he gets 34% with t0 17% for Rand Paul and 12% for Paul Ryan. Voters who fall into that ideological group make up the largest portion of the Republican electorate at 39%. With moderates Cruz gets only 4% with Christie leading at 34% to 12% for Jeb Bush and 10% for Marco Rubio, but they only account for 18% of GOP voters and thus aren't all that relevant to Cruz's prospects for winning a Republican nomination.
Our numbers also suggest that Cruz is now viewed more broadly as the leader of the Republican Party. When asked whether they trust Cruz or GOP leader Mitch McConnell more, Cruz wins out 49/13. When it comes to who's more trusted between Cruz and Speaker John Boehner, Cruz has a 51/20 advantage. And when it comes to Cruz and 2008 GOP nominee and Senate colleague John McCain, Cruz wins out 52/31. He now has more credibility with the GOP base than the folks who have been leading the party for years.
Full results here