Trump has been a constant atop the polls since his ascent to the lead in July, and this new poll marks the first time Cruz stands significantly apart from the other candidates vying for the nomination. Behind those two, Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have each slipped a few points and now stand tied at 10%.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found a tighter race between Trump and Cruz, a finding that clashes with most other recent polling on the national race. It is one of only two live interviewer national polls released since Thanksgiving that found Trump with a lead smaller than 10 points. Across the 10 polls released during that time, Trump’s lead over Cruz averages 16 points.
The CNN/ORC poll was conducted after the Republican debate hosted by CNN and Facebook in Las Vegas on December 15. Among those Republicans who say they watched, 33% say Trump did the best job in the debate, 28% Cruz, 13% Rubio. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie follows with 6%. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, widely seen as needing a strong debate performance to boost his standing in the polls, was rated best by just 1% of debate watchers.