If I were [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ], I’d be pretty happy looking at today’s poll.

Polls are notoriously fickle before actual primaries have taken place, and even then they’re not necessarily the most reliable indicators of future performance.  But it’s all we have, and a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say.

Take a look at the latest Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday Dec. 2.  Leon Wolf already cited this poll as an indicator that a Cruz vs. Rubio race could be shaping up, but I think it’s got more to tell.

Question 1 on the poll was the standard “if the primary were held today…” and what’s most interesting to me isn’t the fact that Carson and Cruz are tied for 3rd behind Trump (solidly in first place by 10 points) and Rubio.  No, what’s interesting is that Trump’s lead is made up almost completely of “Moderate/Liberal” Republicans or Republican leaning voters.

To me, “Republican leaning” means “I hate all the candidates that the Democrats are fielding more than I hate the ones Republicans offer.”  It doesn’t mean a solid Republican who goes to the polls reliably in every primary, but be that as it may, let’s assume they’ll all vote.

In the “Very conservative” category, Cruz beats Trump by the margin of error (3.8%), putting him ahead in that category.  And Trump is capped, with a 57% negative opinion rating, where Cruz has plenty of room to grow his base with a 33% rating.  Once real voting starts, that will become really important.

Clinton has made a small recovery, polling on top of all Republican candidates (but that’s because Democrats would vote for a boll weevil if it was on the ticket), but her negative ratings are worse than any candidate, in either party.

American voters say 60 – 36 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy. Trump is not honest and trustworthy, voters say 59 – 35 percent.

Against Clinton, Cruz is polling better one on one than Trump, with Rubio polling better than either.

The picture painted here is that Cruz only has to win over some of the less hard-core conservatives in the race, which he is very well positioned to do.  According to FEC Q3 reports, Cruz has a $13 million cash hoard, compared to $10 million for Rubio.  Cruz raised a whopping $12.2 million in the third quarter, versus Rubio’s $5.7 million.

Cruz has county chairs in every county in the first 4 states to vote, and is running a hard campaign in U.S. territories outside the CONUS (which, due to arcane GOP nomination rules, could become important).  Rubio just announced that he’s got Florida, his home state, covered, but what about Iowa, New Hampshire, the the “SEC” states?  It’s not clear Rubio’s ground game is nearly as polished as Cruz.

As for Trump, he’s probably the only candidate who can fill a 7,000-seat arena in Macon, Georgia in less than a week.  Being a nationally-known billionaire who’s spend two decades crafting his public persona helps in that department.  But Cruz attracted thousands on his summer bus ride through Georgia, with little to no advance notice in small towns and stops around the state. Even Cruz’s wife, Heidi, got a few hundred people to show up at small venues (without her husband along).

As I wrote, if I were [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ], I’d be fairly happy looking at this poll.  Among Tea Party and “Very conservative” voters, he’s fairly well unbeatable, and among the rest, he can only go up in the polls.  That’s a very good place to be.