Why the fourth most popular candidate in Iowa is in first place

“It makes you scratch your head,” J. Ann Selzer, the pollster who conducted the Des Moines Register survey, tells me. “The field is so big–that’s part of it. You’ve got more popular candidates not getting the first-place vote.”

The poll found that Trump would lose a two-man race against Cruz by 18 points–53 percent to 35 percent. Close to a majority of Iowa caucusgoers (48 percent) have become less comfortable with Trump winning the GOP nomination. And largest percentage of caucusgoers (37 percent) said the nomination of Trump would be “not OK” with them. (Just 20 percent said the same of Cruz and 15 percent said the same of Rubio.)

“There’s this group that really wants Trump,” says Selzer. “Seventy-one percent of Trump’s supporters say they’re locked in. That’s the most intense of anybody.” And that intensity is enough to put Trump in first place in a divided field.

It’s entirely possible that Cruz could still pull off an upset in Iowa, but if the Des Moines Register poll is exactly right, Trump will walk away with 8 delegates, Cruz with 6 delegates, and Rubio with 4 delegates. They’ll all be a long way from the 1,236 delegates needed to win the nomination.