Texas Sen. Ted Cruz thinks Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death led to Cruz's rise in national polling. The senator noted that his newfound success atop a NBC/WSJ national poll came after the justice died on Saturday.

"[I]t was striking, the last Republican debate occurred the same day that we learned Justice Scalia passed, and I think that shifted, it really made people focus on the gravity of the stakes here," Cruz said at a CNN town hall. "You know you mentioned before the new poll today that has us in first place nationwide — it's the first time Donald Trump has not been in first place in many, many months, and I think this is an important reason why. That people were looking at that stage and saying who do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt would nominate and fight to confirm principled conservative jurists who would defend the Constitution?"

Cruz argued that the 2016 presidential election should become a "referendum on the Supreme Court." He said he believed Scalia's death left a huge void on the Court, and compared the justice's impact on law as equivalent to former President Reagan's impact on the presidency.

The Texas senator did not provide a specific name for who he would like to see succeed Scalia, but praised the justice, who was a stalwart defender of originalism and textualism, that Cruz touted having known for 20 years.