Cruz vs Christie for 2016?

October 03, 2013, 6:42 PM GMT+0

Three years away from the next presidential election Ted Cruz narrowly leads Chris Christie as the favorite potential Republican candidate for 2016.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has become one of the favorites of the country's conservative movement, leading the fight to stop Obamacare even if that meant defunding the federal government. The government shutdown began on October 1st and, at least for now, seems set to go on indefinitely. While Cruz's actions have made him enemies with many Republican senators, a victory in the shutdown could raise his profile enormously.

The latest research from YouGov shows that, as might be expected, the Republican field for 2016 is currently wide open. Ted Cruz (16%) enjoys somewhat higher support than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (14%) as the most popular choice for 2016. 25% of Republicans aren't sure of who they want to run for President on their ticket and Rand Paul comes in third with 13%. Significantly, more moderate figures in the party - Christie, Bush, Huntsman - get the support of 25% of Republicans, while more hardline leaders - Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Ryan - are backed by 46% of Republicans.

Historical data from YouGov - going back to December 2012 - shows that Marco Rubio's level of support has fallen significantly over the past year, from 21% back in December 2012 to 9% today. It is likely that much of this drop off in support is associated with his decision in April to co-sponsor a bill to reform immigration laws, create stronger border controls and create a way for millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the United States, a move which angered many conservative activists. Ted Cruz is currently the most popular candidate even though this is the first time he has been included on YouGov's 2016 list. Support for Chris Christie has also increased, though only marginally, from 8% in July to 14% today.