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Poll: Only Mike Huckabee is more conservative than Ted Cruz

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Marco Rubio,Paul Ryan,Republican Party,2016 Elections,Rand Paul,Ted Cruz,Campaigns,Mike Huckabee

He's been a senator for only 16 months, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has created such a sensation among conservatives, Tea Party members and strict Constitutionalists that he is now poised to be among the top of 2016 GOP presidential candidates, according to a new poll.

The engaging senator “could have an edge in the primaries as he is seen as one of the most conservative GOP politicians around,” said the Economist/YouGov.com poll. He is also viewed as honest and outspoken.

And in a sign of his growing popularity among conservatives, 36 percent of Republicans want him to run for president. And 42 percent of Tea Party members want Cruz in the race. But when all Americans are considered, just 19 percent said he should run, while 38 percent don’t.

If he decides to jump in, and he is clearly considering it, Cruz would compete with Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan for the Tea Party vote. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is also a favorite of the conservative-libertarian wing of the GOP and leads in the early caucus state of Iowa.

But Cruz is coming on strong, based mostly on the view among Republicans that he is a true conservative, said the poll. “Cruz’s ideology is a big plus for those who like him. In fact more than half of Republicans — 57 percent — describe Cruz as a conservative. That is a higher percentage from the mostly conservative party identifiers than they give any of the other GOP possibilities with the exception of Mike Huckabee. Last month, nearly two-thirds of Republicans thought of Huckabee as a conservative,” said the poll posted online.

One big problem, found the poll, was that he isn't yet seen as more qualified to be president than much of the rest of the 2016 presidential class.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.