If you read nothing but the New York Times, the Washington Post, and watched nothing but cable news, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ted Cruz is a dangerous fringe reactionary, who could never be elected president.
I’ve previously written that Donald Trump must veer left to win the presidency. He must, and he will, when it suits him. Cruz, however, has no need to veer left. In the first place, he wouldn’t do it–it’s not in his nature.
But Cruz doesn’t need to veer left.
Let’s have a peek at election results. Cruz came in first in Iowa, and third in New Hampshire. Iowa is a very conservative state, with a large evangelical population. NH, not so much, it’s always been a populist, reactionary place (it’s always had an earthy-crunchy feel, but now it’s gaining an increasing liberal population). If Cruz were the dangerous fringe reactionary, we’d expect him to win in NH. But Trump won big.
Kasich got a good bounce from New Hampshire in South Carolina, but he’s barely cracking double-digits–he’s not electable as a conservative nor is he a threat to Cruz’s electability.
Rubio is very electable, but not at Cruz’s expense. In fact, the biggest argument for Rubio is that he’s electable. At best, the Cruz/Rubio feud is causing confusion and division among conservatives, but it will not hurt Cruz’s electability.
Cruz is electable because he’s the real thing: A genuine Constitutional Conservative who is visited nightly by Antonin Scalia’s visage at the foot of his bed, encouraging him to keep the faith. Cruz is a genuine Christian, who is recognizable by his fruit, not his talk. Donald Trump will learn this about genuine Christians–they survive attacks by people accusing them of lying because they own up to their mistakes and live their faith.
Trump’s continual tirades (Trumpertantrums) against Cruz, repeating the words “dishonest” and “lie” ad nauseum only reinforce Cruz’s electability among Christians, who know the truth from another source.
That kind of straightforward, consistent honesty wins elections. Reagan had it, along with another quality Cruz possesses: Civility. Call it politeness, cordiality, gentility, or amenity. In debate, Cruz throws arguments hard and fast, but never insults his fellow candidates. He reacts to attacks on his family and character with laughter.
Cruz is running a solid second place, slightly ahead of or tied with Rubio in South Carolina. Cruz plus Rubio beats Trump there. Take Kasich and Bush out of the race, and either Cruz or Rubio beat Trump.
Trump is maxed out–he can’t get more popular. There’s no possible bounce he could get from New Hampshire (he got it–zero) to make his polling go up. There’s only one way for Trump to go and it’s down, unless and until he veers left. (He will.)
Cruz can only get more popular. In a general election against Hillary, he will devastate her, despite the fear and venom of the left’s mouthpieces. Against Sanders, it wouldn’t even be close.
I like Rubio, and I like Cruz. To choose Rubio over Cruz because he’s “the electable one” is a false choice. Either of them is electable. But the biggest favor Republicans can do for themselves right now is to choose one, because there can be only one.