You may love or hate, fear or want Ted Cruz, but you should not count him out in his race for the 2016 Republican nomination to be President. I personally think that his extreme positions will doom Cruz in a General Election against any Democrat, but I am predicting Ted Cruz will be a very strong contender, at least in the early GOP caucuses and primaries.
Texans know that Cruz is capable of monumental political upsets, as when he defeated the GOP Establishment choice in his U.S. Senate race in 2012. Click here to read a Washington Post column: “The biggest upset of 2012,” which stated in part:
We were reminded this cycle that no candidate is ever 100 percent safe, no matter the advantage in name recognition, money, or campaign apparatus. Every cycle, there are handful of head-turning upsets, and 2012 was no exception.
Wednesday we are handing out the Fixy — the coveted political awards that we, well, made up — for the biggest upset of 2012. While there were several good options to choose from, one stood above the rest: Ted Cruz’s upset of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the Texas Senate Republican primary. His upset was a true grassroots victory against very long odds.
Dewhurst began the campaign in 2011 with just about everything a statewide candidate running in Texas could want: A strong fundraising apparatus and the ability to self-fund millions of dollars, widespread name identification,connections to the state’s most influential pols, and the goodwill of the state’s popular Republican governor.
Cruz, meanwhile, was simply a little-known former state solicitor general with an intriguing profile but a long way to go in a state with multiple expensive media markets that require millions of dollars to stay in the advertising game.
But with attention-grabbing speeches and media appearances, the underdog slowly began catching the attention of influential national conservative players, including South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint’s PAC and the anti-tax Club For Growth, both of which opened up their wallets to support Cruz’s campaign. Cruz also begun coalescing conservative grassroots support inside the state.
Could Cruz repeat that upset story in 2016 and take down the well known, well financed Jeb Bush? Cruz currently dominates the Republican field on social media. Click here to read the February 18 story in the Wall Street Journal which included this chart:
Some Republican political professionals think Cruz is just as likely as Jeb Bush to win the nomination. A Washington Post column written February 13 was entitled, “Cruz is the most underrated candidate in the 2016 field.” Click here to read the entire column by , which said in part:
A prominent Republican consultant — who isn’t working for any of the 2016 presidential candidates and who has been right more times than I can count — said something that shocked me when we had lunch recently. He said that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had roughly the same odds of becoming the Republican presidential nominee as former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Jaw-dropper, right? After all, the conventional wisdom is that Bush, the son and brother of presidents, is the frontrunner to be the Republican standard-bearer, while Cruz, a conservative’s conservative, is a factor, sure, but not someone who could actually win the nomination.
How, I asked this guy, could he say such a thing? He explained it this way.
Think of the Republican primary field as a series of lanes. In this race, there are four of them: Establishment, Tea Party, Social Conservative and Libertarian. The four lanes are not of equal size: Establishment is the biggest followed by Tea Party, Social Conservative and then Libertarian. (I could be convinced that Libertarian is slightly larger than Social Conservative, but it’s close.)
Obviously the fight for the top spot in the Establishment lane is very crowded, with Bush and possibly Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading at the moment. Ditto the Social Conservative lane with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum all pushing hard there. The Libertarian lane is all Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s but, as I noted above, it’s still not that big.
Which leaves the Tea Party lane, which is both relatively large and entirely Cruz’s. While Paul looked as though he might try to fight Cruz for supremacy in that lane at one time, it’s clear from his recent moves that the Kentucky senator is trying to become a player in a bunch of lanes, including Social Conservative and Establishment.
So, Cruz is, without question, the dominant figure in the Tea Party lane. What that means — particularly in the early stages of the primary process in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — is that he will likely be able to win, place or show repeatedly, wracking up enough strong-ish performances to keep going even as the Establishment lane and the Social Conservative lane begin to thin out. (Cruz’s ability to raise money, which remains a question, is less important for him than it is for other candidates — especially those in the Establishment lane. His people are going to be for him no matter how much — or little — communicating he does with them.
The current tentative 2016 schedule favors a social conservative like Cruz. Right now, it looks like the first to help select the nominee will be the Iowa caucuses, then the New Hampshire primary, followed by the Colorado caucuses, New York and Utah primaries, Nevada caucuses, South Carolina and then North Carolina primary. Then, the primaries and caucuses of “Super Tuesday”occur on March 1, which will include Oklahoma and Texas (but also Florida). Anything but a resounding victory for Jeb Bush in these early primaries and caucuses will be portrayed in the media as a defeat.
Simply stated, do not think for a second that Ted Cruz does not have a decent chance of winning the Republican nomination, which would thrill Hillary Clinton and badly frighten the establishment fat cats of the GOP, who see a moderate Bush as their best chance to recapture the White House.