NOTABLES --BEN CARSON ERASES DONALD TRUMP'S NATIONAL LEAD IN NEW POLL: Yesterday it was Iowa. Today it's nationwide. Just a day after Ben Carson blew open a double-digit lead over Trump in the state of Iowa, a new poll shows the real estate mogul's national advantage is now completely gone, ABC's RYAN STRUYK notes. A new poll from CBS News/New York Times released this morning shows Carson with 26 percent support and Trump with 22 percent support, which is within the poll's margin of error. Trump has not trailed in national polls for more than three months, surging to the front of the pack shortly after he entered the race. But now, Trump has slipped slightly, down 5 points in the last two weeks, while Carson has ticked up 5 points in the same time frame. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio garnered 8 percent support in the new poll, with Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina at 7 percent each. http://abcn.ws/1H6QTks
--BEHIND THE NUMBERS: Carson has opened up a wide lead among evangelicals, according to CBS. He leads Trump among that group by more than 20 points. But Trump backers are more solid in their support than Carson supporters. Roughly four in five Carson supporters said they could still change their minds about who to support, while more than half of Trump supporters said they had made their final decision.
--5 REASONS WHY CARSON IS SURGING IN IOWA: A poll out yesterday from Monmouth University shows the neurosurgeon pulling ahead -- and now quickly pulling away -- from Donald Trump by double-digits in the Hawkeye state. It's the third consecutive poll to show Carson ahead, after the real estate mogul had led the crucial first-in-the-nation caucus state for more than three months. The latest Monmouth poll shows Carson at 32 percent support and Trump at 18 percent. What's causing Iowa voters to trade one outsider for another? ABC's RYAN STRUYK cites five reasons for Carson's rise: http://abcn.ws/1Wenktm
--TRUMP GETS PRICKLY OVER POLLS: Trump may be feeling the heat over new polling in Iowa showing his trailing Ben Carson. Walking into a rally in Atkinson, New Hampshire, Monday, Trump dismissed a recent surge by the retired Maryland neurosurgeon, saying, "He's had one better poll in Iowa. I don't believe those polls, actually, because I've seen the response from the people in Iowa," ABC's BRAD MIELKE reports. http://abcn.ws/1PNXCrq
ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: It makes for a grand exit, if not a grand bargain. The budget deal now being finalized between congressional leaders and the White House serves as a parting gift from House Speaker John Boehner to his all-but-certain successor, Paul Ryan. It buys Ryan and Republicans in Congress budget peace for the balance of the Obama administration - the period during which they are guaranteed to have a Democratic president. Barring a rebellion that could would harm Ryan even before he assumes the speakership, Boehner will be leaving Ryan with the kind of maneuvering room he knows he will need to succeed in his new role. Tea party forces will hate Boehner even more, if that's possible. But if Ryan is able to take advantage of what Boehner is handing off to him, it's enough to prompt a reassessment of the Boehner era. He led by lightly leading at times, with a restive group of congressmen who didn't always want a leader. But under the circumstances, between this budget deal and a permanent doc fix, he was able to get some things done that he wasn't supposed to be able to do. It's rarely been pretty. But this would be quite an ending for a man who always said - and meant - he came to get things done.
TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Today, Donald Trump is in Iowa with a 7PM rally in Sioux City. Hillary Clinton will be on the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" tonight. Rand Paul is in Nevada and Colorado with a morning meet and greet in Pahrump, Nevada followed by an evening rally in Denver. John Kasich is in his home state of Ohio where this afternoon he will hold a debate send-off rally in Westerville.
THE BUZZ with ABC's PAOLA CHAVEZ and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI
TED CRUZ TOUTS FUNDRAISING PROWESS WHILE JEB BUSH HUDDLES WITH WORRIED DONORS. Over the past 48 hours, the state of Texas has played host to a tale of two presidential candidates. On one side of town, Jeb Bush met with worried donors. Not far away, Ted Cruz was boasting about the addition of wealthy CEOs to his finance team and touting the endorsement of one of the most powerful politicians in Texas: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who lavished praise on Cruz, calling him a "true conservative" and an "outsider." In fact, Cruz has struggled to gain traction in the polls because of two other outsiders: Donald Trump and Ben Carson. However, his campaign has seen momentum in Iowa with a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll showing him in double digits and 10 percentage-points behind Carson and Trump. The Texas senator said Monday that between his ground game and his fundraising prowess, his campaign has staying power. ABC's JESSICA HOPPER has more. http://abcn.ws/1GEq2RS
JEB BUSH LEANS ON FAMILY TO JUMP-START CAMPAIGN. The Hilton Americas in Houston was abuzz. Behind closed doors were two former U.S. presidents, called in to help the latest Bush to run for the office to resuscitate his ailing campaign. Donors descended on the city of the Bushes for a celebratory event with Republican candidate Jeb Bush and his family, including father George H.W. Bush, brother George W. Bush, mother Barbara, wife Columba, and two sons, ABC's CANDACE SMITH reports. The goal: to reassure an anxious donor base that their guy is still viable and able to regain his footing in an unsure race. According to donors inside, there was no mincing of words. "It feels like a campaign that acknowledges that they have to change course to navigate the political landscape that was different," longtime GOP strategist and ABC News contributor Ana Navarro said. http://abcn.ws/1O3Xlk6
JOHN KASICH FIRES BACK AT TRUMP AFTER FORD COMMENT. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has pulled his latest competitor into a war of words after taking credit for Ford's decision to move a plant from Mexico to Ohio -- which critics have pointed out is factually inaccurate. ABC's BEN GITTLESON reports, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is also running for the Republican nomination, tweeted, "Nope," in response to a series of tweets by Trump claiming that his "constant badgering at packed events" led Ford to "cancel their deal to go to Mexico and stay in U.S." Kasich said what Trump was referring to was actually a result of Ohio leaders enticing Ford to relocate some production from Mexico to Ohio years ago, and his campaign said Trump was making up his own facts. "Our country needs real leadership and not empty, false rhetoric," Kasich said in a statement Sunday night. http://abcn.ws/1kIzDND
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
CAMPAIGN EATS: INSIDE NEW HAMPSHIRE'S RED ARROW DINER. Winning over hearts in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina can't be done on an empty stomach. Residents of the three early presidential primary and caucus states have become accustomed to the quadrennial candidate wooing ritual at diners and local businesses. A select few have even become unofficial regular haunts for presidential candidates who come to meet local folks over local fare. The Red Arrow Diner is one of them. ABC's ALI DUKAKIS has more. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/1P13mwx
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
SEVEN FAMOUS NAMES WHO WISHED HILLARY CLINTON A HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Hillary Clinton turned 68 yesterday, and despite her busy schedule, she made time to let loose. The Democratic presidential front-runner celebrated her big day hosting a star-studded bash in New York City on Sunday night -- on the eve of her birthday. John Legend and Demi Lovato were among the performers at Hillary's birthday/fundraiser event. ABC's PAOLA CHAVEZ has more on the A-listers who took to Twitter to wish the former secretary of state a happy birthday. http://abcn.ws/1ib7Q6G
@AaronBlakeWP:#BlackLivesMatter launches a political action committee. But it's not an easy fit. http://wpo.st/quAj0
@scottwongDC: INSIDE PAUL RYAN'S BRAIN TRUST http://hill.cm/v8WD8ja w/@misswilson
@politico: The most endangered Republican in the country http://politi.co/1LZAdks | Getty
@nowthised: . @SpeakerBoehner clears the barn (and @RepPaulRyan leaves no fingerprints on budget or debt deal) http://cnn.it/1PNXXud via @CNNPolitics
@WaPoSean: At least one former senator says @marcorubio ought to consider resigning from the Senate as he runs for president. http://wpo.st/HsAj0