Conventional wisdom says that people like Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, or Ben Carson could never win the GOP nomination for President. This election cycle has been anything but traditional.
Here is a transcript for a video I recorded about how Cruz could very well be the most likely GOP candidate. If he can get past the primaries, he would likely win the Presidency as well. Scroll all the way down if you’d prefer to listen to the video rather than read the transcript.
In 2012, Texas, the largest red state, had zero input in the nomination of the GOP Presidential candidate. By the time the polls opened, Mitt Romney had secured his nomination, making the primary more symbolic of support for the nominee rather than an actual vote. That’s not going to happen in 2016. This time the south will have a major say in who the nominee will be.
This isn’t the only reason that Republicans should stop saying that Ted Cruz can’t win the nomination, but it’s one of the biggest. Unlike 2012 when Super Tuesday and the first batch of conservative state primaries came two months and 12 states after primary season began, 2016 has a powerhouse Super Tuesday one month and 4 states in. Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and yes, Texas, will play a major role in shaping the Republican nomination process.
The first two roadblocks to a Cruz nomination are the two current frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson. I love a lot of what each of them have to say, but both have challenges. Carson will have to sharpen his responses and do better at answering policy questions in order to win over primary voters. Currently, they like him and trust him but he’s having a hard time defending his positions when the hard questions are asked.
As for Trump, his biggest weakness is how his Yankee perspective holds in the south. He’s polling very well because of extreme name-recognition and the straight talk that the party craves, but a good chunk of the polling population is represented by uninformed voters who won’t actually make it out to the primaries or caucuses.
In this digital, fast-moving age where many people rarely use a landline, it’s challenging for pollsters to be able to gather accurate information. We’ve seen in just the last couple of years a distinct inaccuracy in the polls. This year in the United Kingdom where polls were traditionally more accurate than in the United States, the polls missed huge. Even on election day polling guru Nate Silver had the Conservatives beating Labour by 1 seat. The next morning, the results showed that the Conservatives had nearly a 100 seat advantage.
The demographic that answers these polls has certain traits. They are at home more often, prefer landline or feature phones over smartphones, and have a high school diploma or less education. Name recognition plays the biggest roll in their responses. We can see this trend very heavily in play when Carly Fiorina was making headlines after the 2nd GOP debate. She skyrocketed in the polls to #3 before quickly dropping back down to #6 or #7. Once her name was no longer in the press, she stopped polling very well with the standard uninformed non-voters that are willing to answer telemarketing polls.
If you’re watching this video, you’re probably at least interested in politics to the point that you’re seeking information about the candidates. When was the last time you took a poll on your landline? The reason that you haven’t taken a poll is because you probably don’t fit the demographic. You probably have a job, work hard, do most of your communicating through a smartphone, and plan on actually voting in a primary.
I definitely don’t want to take away from what Donald Trump has accomplished, but his core supporter count has peaked. He has a ton of passionate die-hard supporters who will be disappointed when his vote counts don’t match his poll numbers. Unlike most pundits, I did not think that he would sputter out at any point in the election. I still don’t. I think he’ll be going into Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina with the intention of winning and he’ll gather a good number of delegates, possibly even the most. Once the first Super Tuesday rolls around, he will finally start to fade. Voters will realize that Cruz has very similar hardline perspectives on immigration and boosting the economy without having the baggage of past liberalism. Trump heavily supported the Clintons, is still a proud abuser of eminent domain, and has espoused so many liberal principles that he’s rated further to the left on most issues than former Democratic candidate Jim Webb.
Now, back to Cruz. Assuming that he places in the top 3 in Iowa and South Carolina, he’ll be set for a huge day on March 1. If Carson is not performing well, he may drop out at this point. We expect that Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, and the lower candidates will be out before or during the early primaries as well. This leaves Trump, Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Fiorina, and Cruz.
Bush is the wildcard because of his massive war chest, but Rubio seems primed to be the candidate in the “moderate” row as most pundits are predicting. The real question will come down to how important immigration, the Syrian refugees, and the Islamic State are in the ears of primary and caucus voters at that time. If the focus is as high or higher than it is now, Cruz and the conservatives will be favored after Super Tuesday. If the focus is back on the economy and the likability factor, than Rubio might be able to charm his way to the nomination.
At this point, it’s too early to tell who will have the wrong outburst, who will have the wrong gaffe, and who will get the right endorsements, but the way the field is shaping up it would seem that “smart money” should be placed on Cruz. Those who believe that the attacks he receives from others in the Republican party will make him too much of an outsider to elect, but as Cruz likes to point out, Ronald Reagan was hated by his party going into primary season in 1980. The criticism he received from Washington DC insiders was comparable to the criticism that Cruz is receiving today.
Ted Cruz is not the establishment’s candidate. The Republican establishment preferred Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Bob Dole types that fit a moderate mold in hopes of winning over independent voters. The problem that the Republican party has with Presidential elections is that they equate independent voters with moderate voters. If you look at elections over the last fifty years, you’ll see that the independent voters invariably voted in favor of the candidate who was further to the extreme. Just because they’re independent doesn’t mean that they’re moderate. It means that they’ll go to the side that wins them over with their ideas. That’s why George H.W. Bush, Romney, McCain, and Dole lost to weakened Democratic candidates. The Democrats were weakened, but Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both further to the left than their GOP opponents were to the right. The same can be said about Reagan and George W. Bush. They were both further to the right than their opponents were to the left. The only anomaly was H.W.’s first election against Michael Dukakis. In that case, it was really a vote for Reagan’s third term that won the election.
The Democrats are going to put up a far-left candidate whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. If the Republicans answer with a moderate candidate like Bush, Rubio, or Trump as they always try to do, they will not be back in the White House any time soon.