Could Ted Cruz actually win?

Ted Cruz on Monday became the first official, major candidate in the 2016 race, opting against the “exploratory committee” model that Jeb Bush and others are using and jumping right in, feet first. Anyone who has watched the Texan operate during his first term as a U.S. senator cannot be surprised.

The conventional wisdom about Cruz — and I tend to buy it — is that he doesn’t have a legitimate shot at winning the nomination. If you look at my post from last week about the candidates and their perception among GOP primary voters, Cruz starts with a fairly high number of Republicans who say they couldn’t see themselves voting for him, and hardly more who say they could. Four in five GOP primary voters have an opinion about him, and they’re split between the positive and the negative. If that opinion poll reflects reality, it leaves Cruz with an extremely difficult path to the nomination.

Conservatives Gather For Voter Values Summit

That said, Ben Domenech at The Federalist finds three reasons that Cruz skeptics may be wrong. Here are excerpts of each of his points and my thoughts about them:

“First: Ted Cruz matches up with the activist base better than any other significant candidate in a long time. I don’t think people outside of that base really understand how powerful Cruz’s appeal is to the populist energized conservative voter, which is of course just a faction of the right, but is a sizable faction. Cruz’s critics need to hope that he is limited to this faction, and incapable of appealing outside of it. But that may not prove to be the case, particularly if Cruz is able to cut into the appeal of, say, Walker for pro-business types, Huckabee for social conservatives, Paul for libertarianish Republicans and the like.”

Domenech goes on to discuss Cruz’s love of the fight, as illustrated by his rare willingness, among candidates, to tell Iowa Republicans he’s against the ethanol mandate. To the degree voters are looking for a fighter, I agree they can hardly do better than Cruz. The question is whether they see him as having more than a puncher’s chance in a general election, where “the taste of blood in (one’s) mouth” won’t be as much of an attractive quality.

“Second: To the degree that this is a nomination battle about who has done the most to fight the Obama administration about two key issues — amnesty and Obamacare — Ted Cruz can claim that mantle and beat his opponents over the head with their stances on these topics. We underestimate how going soft on both of these issues is going to play in the GOP primary this cycle, particularly in the early going.”

Here again, there’s little question Cruz has been the brashest fighter on these and other topics. But Cruz will be going up against six current or former governors (Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie) who will counter his willingness to fight with his comparative lack of results. I would be surprised if they don’t try to paint him as a Republican version of Barack Obama circa 2007-08: a first-term senator with a commensurately thin legislative record who will try to win on rhetoric and figure out how to govern later. Absent a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate for much of his first two years, Obama’s record as president would be limited to the killing of Osama bin Laden and a series of executive orders. Cruz wouldn’t have that kind of majority to work with, if he had one at all, and he can’t very well go from critic of Obama’s executive orders to author of his own. With more executive experience in the GOP field than we’ve seen in a number of cycles, proving his governing bona fides will be a tall task for Cruz.

“And third: While the ‘purest’ conservative candidate rarely wins, that assumes a divided right. Cruz may end up running in a field where the other candidates are scrabbling over support from the Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street, and establishment dollars while he could corner the populist talk radio base.”

This is maybe the most intriguing point, because Domenech is absolutely right here: Typically, conservatives divide themselves over the cadre of candidates aiming to be purer than one another, leaving a more moderate candidate like Mitt Romney or John McCain to capture the middle (and certain factions: chamber types in Romney’s case, defense hawks in McCain’s) and the nomination. But there’s a chance the shoe is on the other foot this time around. I’m not sure it will play out that way — and Domenech lists candidates who could challenge Cruz for support on the right flank, one reason you should read his whole piece — but if it did, Cruz could be more successful than a lot of us expect.

Reader Comments 0

68 comments
JoelEdge
JoelEdge

I doubt if the leadership of the Republican Party will allow Cruz the nomination. I'd vote for Cruz before I'd vote for Bush.

MHSmith
MHSmith

Ted Cruz is signing up for OBAMACARE!


His excuse is obeying the law.

Yeah, right


BOLD move Ted, real BOLD move and to think you shut down the government for what?

lvg
lvg

when is Ted doing another Bataan Death March?

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

" I could go on and on and on, but my fingers are tired from typing.  There is one more thing that I can't quite remember.  Oh yeah, now I remember.  Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize."

What did he win it for? I forget.

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

Has anyone taken a look at Jeff Flake? 

I know what you're saying: "Jeff WHO?"

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

No. He will not win, and fortunately for all of us, he does not have a prayer of winning. Why? Because he is Barrack Obama at the other end of the spectrum, and the American people are not going to go for another snake oil salesman, Right, Center, or Left.  


Cruz is a US Senator with little to no executive experience, and with a poor track record in the Senate. Obama also had no executive experience, but he did have so much of a poor track record as he did a non-existent track record in the Senate (same as Cruz, but a little different). Their identical strength is  that they can both talk up a storm, campaign like William Jennings Bryan, look the part, and say all the right things, etc. etc. All of which we have been learning the hard way since 2008, have nothing to do with being a good and capable leader. 


And, they are both highly divisive and polarizing. Cruz is a no-compromise bomb thrower who helped to shut the government down. And now Obama's true colors are coming out. Now that he has lost the Senate and Harry Reid as his protector (who held up 350 bills in the Senate to shield Obama from using the veto and from forcing his members to negotiate and work things out with the Republicans). All done so as not to rock Obama's ideological boat. 


Obama, his protection gone, has now become an executive bomb thrower, incapable of leading (as he has been right from the start), ready, willing and able  to use his self proclaimed and self ordained executive powers, as he and only he sees fit (and he seems so relieved now  not to have to do the heavy lifting of negotiating with America's enemies (not, not the Islamist radicals, but the Republicans and having to actually lead). And he is now quick not only to threaten the veto, but also to use it. 


It is not hard at all to imagine a President Cruz, standing on is precious, unmovable and uncompromising principles, and doing the exact same kind of presidency that any one with a lick of sense cannot wait to see come to an end.  


Electoral politics are changing at all levels, and not for the better. Obama with the help of a slobbering and drooling gang of lame stream sycophant "journalists" fooled every one, and that is going to make it much harder for any future inexperienced and completely unqualified snake oil sales men to occupy the White House in the future. 


Hopefully, Barrack Obama has give the "virtue" of having a "presidential image" a black eye many elections to come.  And although fooled in 2008, "the people" still seem to have some reasonable confidence that the candidate is capable of actually doing the job they will be elected to do and the ability to lead, and know that those are more important than the ability to campaign, be glib, rally the base, communicate, and project just  the right image. 





MarkVV
MarkVV

@Ficklefan 

Wouldn't we be so much better off had the voters believed people like Ficklefan and were not fooled twice by Obama and the slobbering and drooling gang of lame stream sycophant "journalists" ? Perhaps we should get rid of the voters altogether, and have Ficklefan decide who should be in the White House.

MHSmith
MHSmith

The GOP bench of potential Presidential candidates is deep. Some of the best have not been the focus of the media. 

Then again the media is always good at picking the worst first so it appears.

lvg
lvg

Get DaddyCruz to repeat some of his racist comments and Cruz is guaranteed the nomination. Worked for Obama with Rev. Wright! Mention that he is not a naturalized citizen and he is sure to win. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

He is by far the smartest Republican with the possible exception of Carly Fiorina.  He may be Obama smart as he has a very similar resume.  He is shrewd enough to manipulate everyone around him, and he has dominated the republican senate with pure guile.


I would bet that he wins the republican nomination or makes himself the kingmaker.  

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Obama started running for president from the moment he was elected senator. Cruz has done the same.

Huckabee has been out of the governing business for too long.

All the other GOP candidates have had their noses to the grindstone, going about the business of governing their respective states.

The GOP candidates should be aware of Hillary's strategy. Her plan is to let them devour one another while she appears to take the "high road".

Hopefully the GOP candidates will keep it civil.

Hillary has crowned herself. Though many dems in Washington would prefer someone else, they'll keep their mouths shut in hopes that Hillary's strategy works.

This is gonna be interesting. 

MHSmith
MHSmith

@FIGMO2 

Hillary has problems a plenty of her own she may have a couple of Democrat contenders pounding on her as well. Jim Webb, Elizabeth Warren, Martin O'Malley and  the crazy uncle Joe they try to keep in the attic. 

Her trust and transparency  issues have left her badly beat-up and bloody.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@FIGMO2 

“The GOP candidates should be aware of Hillary's strategy. Her plan is to let them devour one another while she appears to take the "high road".”

You mean Hillary has engineered all those contests of multiple candidates for Republican nomination? WOW, even I would not have thought her that skillful.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

@FIGMO2 Didn't he start running for President shortly after his birth in Kenya?  Or was it a little after that, when he was getting schooled on being a Muslim Marxist?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Great article, Kyle, and good analysis from the "3 reasons" Cruz may be underestimated. 


I doubt a far-right candidate will get the nomination, as previous primaries have shown.  The most electable wins the nomination.  If Cruz actually gets the nomination, he'll lose the general election badly based on his over-the-top anti-Obama rhetoric without solutions. 

I also thought Georgian's would vote in a crooked politician like Deal, and I was wrong.  Anything can happen with these elections. 


Starik
Starik

@LogicalDude Georgia's vote is no surprise...we have a long history of electing extreme folks to be governor, though we did pass on J.B. Stoner.  Have we ever had a presidential candidate from a major party who is as far from moderation as Cruz?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HDB0329 I don't really want to wade into the birther nonsense ... but ... plenty of other countries grant dual citizenship rights. The U.S. is much stricter about this, although my understanding is our government doesn't require people to renounce their other citizenship(s) in order to keep their U.S. citizenship. Obtaining U.S. citizenship as a citizen of another country is a different matter.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

@Kyle_Wingfield @HDB0329

The question isn't about dual citizenship.  It is - and remains - about what the Framers intended with "natural born."  Snake-oil Ted was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father.  If President Obama is un-American, then Snake-oil Ted is even more so.  But we know that conservative hypocrisy is a one-way street.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Don't mess with this lib I never questioned Obama's citizenship; in fact, I wrote that no one else should, either. However, HDB asked how Cruz could have Canadian citizenship to renounce, and I answered him.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@Kyle_Wingfield @Don't mess with this lib 

Many of us question "inheriting birthright citizenship" Kyle. This point has been argued time an again as "anyone should"

Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution sets forth the eligibility requirements for serving as president of the United States:

“ No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.


We disagree about the correctness of raising Ted's birthright citizenship not taking place on the soil or within the jurisdiction of the Untied States.


He is disqualified to get my vote by his Canadian birthright alone. Ted is not a natural born U.S. citizen in my eyes.

RLSmith
RLSmith

The republican nominee will beat the liberal lying Hillary.  People are really going to be sick of her by Nov. 2016.

straker
straker

Rafe - "we need the blunt truth sometimes"


And you may be certain Ted will show us all the "blunt truth" about fundamentalist conservatism.


However, you might not like what you see.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

No, Cruz cannot win the Presidency.  But I think it'd be great if he won the Republican nomination.


Admittedly, the prospect of a Cruz Presidency is downright scary.  He is one of the most hypocritical, intolerant, dishonest, irresponsible POS' Canada has ever produced.  I'll bet that Canadians are thrilled to be rid of him.  I submit there is more danger if Cruz gets his hands on a nuclear weapon than the Iranians.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Don't think he can win, too many negatives, but very glad he jumped in.  Hopefully he can make some points about candidates telling the truth and living up to their campaign promises.  People are sick to death of people promising one thing while campaigning and getting to Washington and pretending they never intended to do what they are on record as advocating.   Cruz is much like Obama in that he has little experience as a first term Senator, has demonstrated that he is not good working with other people, and like Obama might be in over his head.  I prefer a governor.  Cruz is one of the few however, that can unapologetically  and eloquently make the case for conservatism.  McCain, Bush, Romney and many others have a hard time explaining conservatism, because they weren't really hard core conservatives.  Conservatism was almost as mystifying to them as to their opponent.  Cruz and Rubio are both very eloquent and not only believe in Conservatism, but can explain it. 


We need the blunt truth sometimes, this political speak of rounding the corners and parsing words to keep from offending folks has run its course.  We need someone to point out the sharp distinctions between the two sides, instead of wallowing in the grey.  I think Cruz's campaign will be a positive for the GOP and engage folks that have given up on politics, after they concluded that America is in decline and too far gone to worry about.   Maybe Cruz can pull a few low info's out of their stupor and get them motivated and involved in the process, it may be our last chance.

Eustis
Eustis

@RafeHollister  maybe you should read that piece by the " fact checker" posted on MSN today.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Eustis @RafeHollister  I think Cruz's campaign will be a positive for the GOP

I do too. Lets have as many debates on the right as we can.....Oh wait.

ALibNotToBeMessedW/
ALibNotToBeMessedW/

@RafeHollister

You mean like the time when Cruz shut down the government in an effort to defund the ACA, and then turning around and voting to fund the ACA?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Don't mess with this lib @RafeHollister I guess he was afflicted with transient Dem hypocrisy, he was against it before he was for it, kinda like Hillary, voting for the Iraq war then calling it Bush's war or saying that the Benghazi attack was the result of a random demonstration based on a video, before declaring she knew all along it was a terrorist attack. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@HDB0329 @RafeHollister So, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, quilt by association, which we never hear applied to Barry Obama.  So, Jeremiah Wright, Frank Marshall Davis, Barack Obama Sr, and Saul Alinsky all are just like Barack, right?

GMFA
GMFA

Kyle, Obama did bring Health Care to the USA, the last developed nation in the world to have it. He dealt with a dysfunctional Congress whose main goal was not to pass anything but to stop everything to help the Koch's and Adleson's of the world. He also helped us recover from a great recession. again with no help from the Pubs. History will be much more kind to him than to the likes of you.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @GMFA 

So, we didn't have any healthcare before Obama?  85% had healthcare and were very satisfied with it.


Not true. In fact countries like Canada with universal healthcare always score higher when they are asked if they are satisfied with their care. 

Dowsing isnt real either Rafe.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar This is the last time I approve a comment with a dowsing reference. It's past its expiration date.

GMFA
GMFA

@Kyle_Wingfield @Alberta In spite of an obstructionist Congress, who shut down the Government costing us billions. I think they were called the "Do Nothing Congress" Kyle. It wasn't the do nothing President, unless your blind.

Alberta
Alberta

@GMFA  Let's see.  Killed Osama bin Laden; brought the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan; jobless rate is at pre-Bush levels; stock market at all time high; economy back to pre-Bush levels; banned torture; lifted restrictions on embryonic stem cell research; signed Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act; signed Helping Families Save Their Homes Act; signed Small Business Jobs & Credit Act; signed Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act; signed Food Safety and Modernization Act; signed Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act; signed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

I could go on and on and on, but my fingers are tired from typing.  There is one more thing that I can't quite remember.  Oh yeah, now I remember.  Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Alberta "Let's see."

Yes, let's.

"Killed Osama bin Laden;"

Already acknowledged.

"brought the troops home from Iraq"

And now they're going back.

"and Afghanistan;"

Not all of them, not yet.

"jobless rate is at pre-Bush levels;"

Nope. The jobless rate, averaged over the past three months, is 5.6%. That's higher than the last pre-Bush year, 2000, which was 4%. It's also higher than the full-year average in five of Bush's eight years in office.

"stock market at all time high;"

Not if you adjust for inflation.

"economy back to pre-Bush levels;"

I would hope the economy would be larger now than in 2000...

"banned torture;"

Depends on how you define "banned" and "torture."

"lifted restrictions on embryonic stem cell research;"

OK.

As for the rest, how many of them have had real-world impact? And the fact you have to include reauthorizations of other presidents' laws is pretty telling.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@GMFA So, we didn't have any healthcare before Obama?  85% had healthcare and were very satisfied with it.  I expect that the number satisfied is much lower today.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@GMFA The do-nothing Senate under Harry Reid insulated Obama from anything the House passed. Let's not pretend Reid did this against Obama's wishes.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Eustis @RafeHollister @GMFA And that answer in a country as wealthy as this one

One that is made up mostly of Christians and is supposedly compasionate towards his fellow man

Is simply shameful.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Could Ted Cruz actually win?


A: No


But its nice to see the clown car gets is first passenger. He can read Green Eggs and Ham while it bounces down the road. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

Whether Ted Cruz can win the Republican nomination might be an interesting question for nomination race prognosticators, but for the more general audience a more interesting question is whether the country could do any worse than with Ted Cruz in the White House. considering the current crop of potential candidates. I believe that the answer to that one is: Hardly.

332-206
332-206

Canadian whose father fought with Castro, graduated from Princeton and Harvard.

He's an elitist mole!