I do believe the senator is suggesting that Democrats would rather face Trump than him in a general election. Which is highly debatable. If you were a Democrat, would you rather face an ideologue who’s convinced he can win an election solely by turning out the right or a charismatic centrist who dominates the media and who’s showed strong appeal among a certain type of Democrat?

Either way, the missiles are flying. Finally.

“I will say it is more than a little strange to see Donald relying on as authoritative a liberal, left wing, judicial activist Harvard Law professor who is a huge Hillary supporter,” Cruz told reporters in Hudson, New Hampshire, Tuesday. “It starts to make you think, gosh, why are Hillary’s strongest supporters backing Donald Trump?”…

“You know, the past couple of elections we saw the Democrats thrilled that they got the nominee they wanted to run against in the general election,” he said. “And it seems the Hillary folks are very eager to support Donald Trump and the attacks that are being tossed my direction.”

Yes, it’s passing strange to find a left-ish master troll like Donald Trump, who’s now taken to playing “Born in the USA” at his events to taunt Cruz, doing something super-trollish like touting an attack from the left on Cruz’s eligibility.

Here’s Tribe’s op-ed, which takes the Trump-ish line that no court will ever dare rule Cruz ineligible because of the circumstances of his birth (which is true) but that it’s a major problem anyway because fringe liberals will end up challenging his executive actions as president in court on grounds that he can’t constitutionally hold the office. Fringe righties have been doing that to Obama for years and it’s never proved a problem so I don’t know why it’d be a problem for Cruz. But Tribe doesn’t care about that; he’s making the point that a narrow, originalist reading of the Constitution, which Cruz himself holds, would ironically place Cruz in greater legal jeopardy here than an expansive liberal reading of the “natural-born” clause would. (See this op-ed, by another law prof, arguing that Cruz is ineligible in the originalist view.) And Trump, being Trump, is happy to exploit that.

And if you believe PPP, it may be working. Trump 28, Cruz 26 in Iowa for now — with a bigger lead on the way, perhaps.

The poll finds that the ‘birther issue’ has the potential to really hurt Ted Cruz. Only 32% of Iowa Republicans think someone born in another country should be allowed to serve as President, to 47% who think such a person shouldn’t be allowed to serve as President. Among that segment of the Republican electorate who don’t think someone foreign born should be able to be President, Trump is crushing Cruz 40/14.

Despite all the attention to this issue in the last week, still only 46% of Iowa Republicans are aware that Cruz was not born in the United States. In fact, there are more GOP voters in the state who think Cruz (34%) was born in the United States than think Barack Obama (28%) was. Donald Trump knows what he’s doing when he repeatedly brings up this issue- 36% of Cruz voters aren’t aware yet that he wasn’t born in the United States, and 24% of Cruz voters say someone born outside the country shouldn’t be allowed to be President. So this issue has the potential to be a difference maker with the race persistently so close in Iowa. The good news for Cruz is that when informed, 65% of Iowa Republicans say it makes no difference to them that he was born in Canada- but 24% saying less likely could be crucial in a margin of error race.

Thirty-six percent of Trump’s voters, whom Cruz is trying to woo, also erroneously believe Cruz was born in the United States. Earlier this afternoon, I asked for crosstabs showing how Trump’s and Cruz’s own voters feel about the eligibility issue. PPP has the answer. Note the results among Trump’s fans, specifically.

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The more that Iowa becomes a two-man race, the more pressure lukewarm supporters of other candidates will feel to ditch their guy and choose between Trump and Cruz to try to affect the outcome. How is the Birther issue likely to play with them?

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Note the numbers among Huckabee and Santorum fans particularly. Gulp.

If you missed it in Headlines earlier, read this RCP story on a mysterious phone call some Iowa voters have gotten lately asking the recipient if he’d be more or less likely to support Donald Trump if he knew that Trump has said he’s never asked God for forgiveness, that he supports eminent domain and used to support single-payer health care, that he’s “a New York liberal pretending to have conservative values,” and so on. That sounds like a campaign trying out attack lines in preparation of a big ad barrage to come. Which campaign could it be?