Texas Sen. Ted Cruz holds a small lead over billionaire Donald Trump in Iowa, less than three weeks before the nation's first nominating contest, according to a new poll.
A new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register survey shows Cruz topping the GOP field with 25 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers selecting the Texas senator as their first choice. Trump trails just three points behind at 22 percent -- a gap within the poll's margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Since the new year, Trump has promised to pump up his ground game in Iowa, allocating a portion of his budget to television advertising in the state. The new ads could be chipping away at Cruz's one-time 10-point lead: since the last Iowa survey was taken in December, Trump has climbed one point while Cruz has lost six points.
Far behind the Iowa front-runners, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are vying for third place, with Rubio polling at 12 percent and Carson at 11 percent.
No other Republican breaks into the double digits: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is at 5 percent former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 4 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tied at 3 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Carly Fiorina both register with 2 percent, while Rick Santorum sits at 1 percent.
When first- and second-choices for Republicans are combined, Cruz leads over Trump by an even greater margin: 48 percent to 33 percent.
Still, about 56 percent of likely caucus attendees could still change their minds about their first-place choice or do not have a one.
Trump's latest attacks against Cruz over his birthplace and whether he is eligible to run for the presidency don't seem to be hurting the Texas senator's standing among Iowans. Eighty-three percent of those polled say it does not bother them that Cruz was born in Canada. It bothers 15 percent of likely caucus-goers, with 2 percent remaining unsure.
The survey, conducted Jan. 7-10 by Selzer & Co., polled 500 likely Republican caucus participants. A Bloomberg/Des Moines Register poll on Democrats is expected to be released Thursday.
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