— -- With less than 70 days to the Iowa Caucus, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is seeing larger numbers at his events, increased fundraising, and a momentum that has propelled him to second place in Tuesday's Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa Republican Caucus-goers. Cruz's support has doubled since the last Quinnipiac poll four weeks ago and he finds himself in a dead heat with Donald Trump for the top spot.
"The difference over the last two or three months each time he comes to the state, it just seems like there’s more excitement and people seem to be starting to understand that they have their champion in this election cycle," Cruz's Iowa State Director Bryan English told ABC News.
There's a growing consensus among Iowa's conservatives that they must elect someone this time around who can get past the early states as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum struggled to do.
“There is a great deal of frustration that the last two times, those candidates weren’t able to take that caucus win and turn it into a nomination," said English.
Loras Schulte is so excited about Cruz that he resigned last week from the state's central committee with the Iowa Republican Party, a position that requires its members to remain neutral.
“Here’s a man that’s willing to stand-up on the floor of the Senate and call out the leadership, the Republican leadership in the Senate," Schulte told ABC. "It’s not someone I would look at as a quintessential insider. It can’t just be about making it to South Carolina. It’s about going the distance."
Cruz has trailed Ben Carson and Trump in Iowa since July. In the CNN/ORC poll from Nov. 6, Trump and Carson led Cruz by double digits.
Cruz’s fundraising prowess has enabled his campaign to add more field staff in Iowa and the senator himself has hit the ground harder, making five trips to the Hawkeye State in the past month and a half. Cruz's campaign and a super PAC supporting him have also begun running radio and television ads in Iowa and Cruz's campaign was given a boost when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) endorsed him eight days ago.
"We are in great shape here in Iowa, but unlike many other campaigns, we don’t have to win Iowa in order to keep working to the nomination," English told ABC. “We already have the infrastructure in the early states, up to and including the SEC primary states, to continue earning delegates long after Feb. 1."
Cruz's Iowa team said one of the reasons why Cruz is starting to catch on is that he doesn't just appeal to evangelicals, but also to libertarians, moderate Republicans, and even some Democrats.
Last month at an old-fashioned soda counter in Sidney, Iowa, the senator was greeted by a Vietnam veteran who told him, "I voted for Obama for change. Now all I got is change. That's why I am voting for you."