Charting Ted Cruz's meteoric rise in the polls

Does anyone remember when Ted Cruz was fifth in the polls, behind Donald Trump, behind Ben Carson, behind Jeb Bush, and behind Marco Rubio?  For a long time he hovered between fourth and fifth place in national polls, always behind Marco Rubio, hovering in high single digits, until just before Thanksgiving.  Then he shot up into the teens, where he was until last week.  Now, if the latest poll is to be believed, he is at 24% nationally.

The change is equally dramatic in Iowa.  He was basically in single digits, in a three-way tie for third place with Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, until the middle of October.  Then he rose to the low teens, quickly rose to the 20s by Thanksgiving, polled around 30 by the beginning of December, and if the latest poll is to be believed, he's at 40%.

Cruz has also seen a boost in South Carolina.  He was in single digits until November but is now in the 20s.  Even in mushy moderate New Hampshire, which he has really been weakest in terms of polling, he started out in low single digits, but he has recently surged to second place, behind Donald Trump in the mid-teens.

So what's been going on here?  I think there are two factors in play.  First, as we get closer to the primaries, people are starting to pay attention.  Most people make their decision on whom they will support not earlier than 60 days before a primary or caucus.

And secondly, there has been a wholesale migration from Ben Carson to Ted Cruz.  Look at Iowa.  A Loras College poll had Ted Cruz at 6% and Ben Carson at 31% in late October.  A CBS poll from last week has Cruz at 40% and Carson at 6%.  (Cruz has been drawing from Rubio as well).

It was thought that Carson and Trump supporters were interchangeable; it appears they are not, and nearly all Carson's supporters have turned to Ted Cruz.

Now, we have no way of knowing if Ted Cruz has not yet peaked or has peaked and will decline or will stay steady in his support.  Ideally for him, he would be having these numbers a week before the Iowa caucuses.  But at the moment, not just momentum, but organization is on his side.  Trump and Rubio simply don't have the campaign organization that Cruz does.  That will hurt them with turnout, especially in a caucus state like Iowa, where caucus-goers have to be trained in the rules and make a real time commitment.  Trump hasn't been making the effort that Cruz has there.

Rubio has been trying to go after Cruz without much success, and Trump tried a little, but not much.  I think one of them is going to have to go after Cruz more effectively if they want to change the equation.

This article was written by Ed Straker, senior writer of, the conservative news site.