Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is already reaping benefits from his 21-hour stand against President Barack Obama's new health care law, as a new poll shows him leading the way for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Cruz garnered 20 percent support compared to 17 percent for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., 14 percent for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 11 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and 10 percent each for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., according to a survey by Public Policy Polling released Friday. Cruz improved 8 percent from a similar poll in July.
"He's made himself the face of a government shutdown over Obamacare and the Republican base supports that by a 64 to 20 margin," said Tom Jensen, PPP's polling director in a memo accompanying the results. "It's not surprising that Republicans identifying as 'very conservative' support a shutdown 75 to 10, but even the moderate wing of the party supports it by a 46 to 36 margin."
Cruz commandeered the political spotlight earlier this week when he railed against the Affordable Care Act from Tuesday afternoon to midday Wednesday. He advocated a plan passed by House Republicans that stripped out money to implement the law from a government spending bill that must pass by Oct. 1 to avoid a shutdown of the federal bureaucracy.
"There is a problem in Washington and the problem is bigger than a continuing resolution. It is bigger than Obamacare. It is even bigger than the budget," Cruz said during his speech. "The most fundamental problem and the frustration is that the men and women in Washington aren't listening."
His tirade – which fell short of success during a Senate vote Friday – has helped at least temporarily launch him to the top of the GOP presidential pig pile and perhaps party leader in general.
"Our numbers also suggest that Cruz is now viewed more broadly as the leader of the Republican Party," Jensen said. "When asked whether they trust Cruz or GOP leader Mitch McConnell more, Cruz wins out."
The poll surveyed 743 Republican primary voters from Sept. 25-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.