(Providence, Rhode Island) – This past week marked the first official major party entrant into the 2016 Presidential race. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas announced his bid at Liberty University in Virginia. His entry was met with both cheers and derision, so let’s “brunch” on that this week.
“The Polls” – The latest Real Clear Politics composite poll compiled over the past two months has Cruz in eighth place for the Republican nomination with just 4.6 percent of the vote. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) Florida and Gov. Scott Walker (R) Wisconsin are tied for the lead at 16.6 percent each. Right now, Cruz would have to be considered a long shot or dark horse, but we’ve seen candidates come from the back of the back and win before.
“Can He Win?” – The short answer is "Yes." It may be a tough road, but here are three big assets. First, he’s Latino and bilingual. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the United States voter base. Republicans need to win back traditional GOP states that have gone Democrat in the last two elections. Coincidentally,they are among the states where the Hispanic vote is most influential. Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado and Virginia are on the list. If Republicans win those, they are back in the White House. Second, Cruz is a new face, and the public likes new and different. If many in the GOP begin to suffer from “Bush fatigue,” Cruz may draw big benefits. Third, Cruz is a true conservative who could solidify the party’s base. Hundreds of thousands of the most conservative Republicans stayed home in 2008 and 2012, because they believed John McCain and Mitt Romney were too moderate.
“Oh, Canada!” – Opponents will try to make Cruz’s birth in Canada an issue, which I think is a tactical mistake. A lot of time and energy were spent debating President Obama’s birth certificate, and what did that get his opponents? Two terms of Obama. Democrats also tried to make hay of Sen. John McCain’s birth in the Panama Canal Zone, and that attempt flopped. Cruz was born in Canada to a U.S. Citizen, making him one, too! End of story.
“Deep in the Heart of Texas” – Senator Cruz may be well behind in the polls, but that can always change. He comes to the table with a big advantage from the start since he’s from Texas, a state rich in Electoral College votes. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have a similar advantage, being from Florida. And Democrat Hillary Clinton has chops running from New York. Any Republican running for President has to walk into the room with Texas and Florida in his or her back pocket. For Democrats, New York and California are the cornerstones of an Electoral College win.
“Musical Chairs” – Ted Cruz may be way back in the weeds in the polls, but don’t forget what happened during the 2012 Republican campaign. At different points during the race, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney were all frontrunners. For a while it was like the ice cream store that offers the “Flavor of the Week!” Based on polling I’ve seen so far, I think the 2016 GOP race is wide open, and anything can happen.
“The Downside” – While I have listed many plusses for a Cruz campaign, politics is always a two-sided coin. True conservatives may love him for his stances on immigration, education and Obamacare; but Democrats will use those issues as points of attack. Even moderate Republicans may have trouble warming up to Cruz on some issues. The vast numbers of independent or unaffiliated voters are, as always, the wild-cards here.
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