The CBS poll over the weekend had Cruz nosing into second in Iowa. Trump still leads at 30 percent, with Cruz at 21 and Carson at 19. At this point, I think you have to say Cruz is the favorite to win Iowa — in fact if this is where the race stood in a poll the weekend before the caucuses, I’d still bet on Cruz because I assume his voters are very motivated and very reliable caucus-voters.
It’s hard to exaggerate how much things have broken Cruz’s way. Potential threats to him in Iowa have faded away, with Scott Walker out of the race and Rand Paul a non-factor. Meanwhile, Carson has been losing some altitude on his own. This is exactly what Cruz expected and hoped for, because he couldn’t go out and attack Carson.
The numbers on who Iowa Republicans consider ready to be commander-in-chief are off the charts for Cruz. He’s at 67 percent ready and 15 percent not ready, solidly ahead of anyone else and particularly Ben Carson, at 43–38. Of course, it’s still early and Trump is still ahead.
If Trump were calculating his interests cold-bloodedly — instead of getting charmed by Cruz’s nice treatment of him — he’d realize the threat from Cruz and begin to go after him. This seems almost inevitable at some point, which will be awkward for Cruz but you can see the Texan responding more in sorrow than in anger: “I admire Donald Trump, but I hate to say, he’s just not a conservative.”