Quotes of the day

Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign raised $12.2 million in the third quarter, more than twice as much as the $6 million that Florida Senator Marco Rubio brought in during the same period. 

Cruz’s campaign said it took in 184,800 donations in the third quarter, the average coming in at $66, bringing the total Cruz has raised since launching his presidential bid to $26.5 million. 

“We are thrilled to see a grassroots wave of support for our campaign gaining momentum all over the country,” Cruz said in a statement Thursday night. “Not only are we seeing a surge of new donors and recurring donors to our campaign, but also continued growth of our organizations in the early states and all across the country.”


Within Republican circles, attitudes about his viability have begun to change. Even strategists associated with some of Cruz’s rivals acknowledge that, in a historically crowded field, he may be one of the last men standing. “He’s got a long way to go, but unlike some of these guys, he has a coherent strategy, he has a lot of money, he has a pretty consistent message, and he’s not making mistakes,” says a top Republican strategist allied with Florida senator Marco Rubio. “He’s running a good campaign.”…

The campaign has been getting in position for a long time. Steve Deace, an Iowa-based talk-radio host who has endorsed Cruz, says that as far back as August of 2013, Cruz was asking him to set up meetings with top Iowa activists. Now, Deace says, the Texas senator has “the best [Iowa] organization I’ve ever seen,” composed of the sort of dedicated activists who put Rick Santorum over the finish line four years ago.

Cruz also has a plan beyond Iowa. He has referred to the March 1 “SEC primary,” in which eight Southern states go to the polls, as his “firewall”: that is, a backstop against whatever losses he might sustain beforehand. This year, these Southern states will go to the polls before Florida and before the traditional Super Tuesday, a change in the primary calendar instituted by RNC chairman Reince Priebus. Most of those contests, unlike the ones that precede them, are not winner-take-all, and Cruz’s goal is to win the most delegates rather than to take entire states…

“He’s in an incredibly strong position,” says David Bossie, the president of the conservative activist group Citizens United. “If Ted Cruz does not win the nomination, he is gonna come back to the United States Senate as the most powerful senator, even without the title of majority leader.”


Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has said that he sees himself taking Donald Trump’s support after Trump eventually leaves the race. But there’s another key part of Cruz’s strategy to steal other people’s votes out from under them, and that’s to make an appeal to the libertarians who have generally been supporting Sen. Rand Paul

Cruz’s comments seemed to contain an implicit criticism of Paul’s wavering on some issues important to libertarians and his working relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“In this election cycle, there are a lot of candidates who are running as outsiders, a lot of candidates who are saying they will stand up and fight Washington,” Cruz said. “I think that’s fantastic but it leads to the natural next question: OK, what is your record? When have you actually stood up and fought Washington?”


“Our theory has always been that you need to crush your bracket first in order to advance,” Rick Tyler, a Cruz spokesperson, said, comparing the primary slog to the annual college basketball tournament…

Tyler sees the GOP primary electorate as four distinct “brackets” of voters — libertarian, evangelical, Tea Party, and establishment candidates — and it’s clear that Cruz continues to make a play for all but the latter

Cruz has already made a strong play for the evangelical and Tea Party blocs — jumping into the race as a Tea Party favorite, he immediately made a play for Christian conservative voters with an announcement from the evangelical Liberty University…

“If you look at where the Carson vote goes, the Huckabee vote eventually goes, the [Rick] Santorum vote, or the Rand Paul vote eventually goes, Cruz is very well positioned to be the default choice of supporters of a lot of other candidates,” said Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based GOP strategist. 


All presidential campaigns aspire to favorably change the composition of the electorate. Cruz aims to substantially reconfigure the electorate as it has recently been

Nonvoting whites, especially those without college experience, are among Cruz’s principal targets. His geniality toward Donald Trump reflects the Cruz campaign’s estimate that perhaps one-third of the Trumpkins have not voted in recent elections. If so, Trump is doing downfield blocking for Cruz, beginning the expansion of the 2016 electorate by energizing people whose alienation from politics has made them nonvoters.

Cycle after cycle, says Johnson, the percentage of true swing voters shrinks. Therefore, so does the persuadable portion of the electorate. Cruz aims to leaven the electorate with people who, disappointed by economic stagnation and discouraging cultural trends for which Republican nominees seemed to have no answers, have been dormant during recent cycles.


Cruz is working the most distant corners of the political map, courting Republicans in the farthest-flung U.S. territories in an attempt to meet the requirements of Republican National Committee rule No. 40 (b), an obscure provision that currently stipulates that in order to receive the nomination, a candidate must win majorities of delegates in eight states or territories…

“Whether you’re getting Texas, Michigan and Ohio, or the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa, each has an equal voice when it comes to nominating candidates to put them on the ballot at the convention,” said Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, who is advising the Cruz campaign on territory outreach and delegate counts, and helped orchestrate a recent trip to the Virgin Islands for Cruz’s father, Rafael…

“[Cruz is] trying very hard, and frankly, when someone sends someone out here, we’re out in the islands, we’re so far away, we really appreciate that,” noted Philip Flores, an influential Guam Republican and president of the Bank of the Pacific, who met with Cruz emissary Lennox.


The problem is that his strategy is a long shot. It basically calls for Cruz to muddle through the early contests and then kick into gear a month later when Southern states head to the polls in March. And by then, it might be too late for a Cruz surge.

“If it works, everyone will say it’s brilliant,” says Craig Robinson, a Republican strategist in Iowa. “But if it fails, I think this could be looked back on as the colossal mistake his campaign made.”…

The campaign’s assumption is that Cruz’s Southern “firewall” will hold up if he doesn’t have a strong performance in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. Yet that may be more a wish than a calculation. As Robinson points out, those early contests will produce winners and losers—and that may well do much to shape the polls and the contours of the contests to come. If Cruz doesn’t have a strong showing in these states, it’s hard to imagine his “firewall” appearing on March 1…

Robinson suggests that if Cruz wants his rivals to implode, he might have to start explicitly attacking candidates in his brackets, such as Carson, who has a strong presence in Iowa and major support among the evangelical voters whom Cruz needs. Instead, Cruz is acting like a front-runner, setting up a “firewall” and avoiding direct clashes with his primary rivals.


Will Ted Cruz pick up Trump’s supporters if the mogul starts to fade? Many, if not most, reporters seem to think so. Cruz himself may think so. The data, however, strongly suggest this a fool’s errand.

As I’ve written elsewhere (here, most recently), Trump supporters come from all factions of the GOP. Indeed, most polls show that Trump runs better among self-described moderates than among very conservative voters…

Cruz is wildly popular among Tea Partiers (73-12) and very conservative voters (78-10). He is not popular with voters not part of the Tea Party (42-39). Most importantly, he is loathed by moderates. Only 18 percent of moderates have a favorable opinion of Ted Cruz; 62 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him…

Cruz has based his entire career on the premise that very conservative voters are the ignored majority among Republicans. That may be true in the Republican South, but it is not true nationally. The very image that draws many Republicans to him repels or annoys a larger number.  To put it in terms he might understand, a majority of Republican voters have more in common with Mitch McConnell than with him. Until he realizes that and does something to make those voters like him, Cruz will remain a polarizing figure who has no chance to become the nominee, let alone President.


It’s possible, just possible, that the final battle to become the 2016 GOP standard-bearer will come down to a pair of first-generation Cuban-American, first-term senators. Yes, I’m talking about the same Republican Party that has proven so incompetent in reaching out to Hispanic voters that it followed up its 2012 post-mortem determination to get better at it by, arguably, getting worse. Not that a final showdown between Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida will necessarily help on that score, but more on that later…

Maybe this is the year that an outsider upends the system and the political laws of physics stop working, but I feel safe betting that this year’s outsiders will join the likes of Herman Cain, Wes Clark, Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson as notable also-rans. But the Trump-Carson-Fiorina axis does illustrate that the angry, anti-establishment section of the GOP electorate is alive and well. And each of the last four sets of contested Republican primaries (going back as far as 1996, when Pat Buchanan won New Hampshire and exhorted his supporters to “mount up … and ride to the sound of the guns”) has boiled down to an anti-establishment candidate against an establishmentarian. So where do the disaffected GOP voters go?

Of the potential anti-establishmentarians, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had his turn as last-outsider-standing in 2008 and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had his in 2012. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took time out of his presidential campaign this week to work on his simultaneous senatorial re-election while one of his super PACs abandoned him. Who does that leave? Cruz, who has been auditioning for the role since he joined the Senate, has transparently positioned himself to scoop up the angry Trump voters when he folds and also has a bigger share in the average of polls (6.2 percent) as Huckabee (3), Paul (2.3) and Santorum (0.5) combined. If there’s an anti-establishment establishment, Cruz is its candidate…

Rubio versus Cruz would set up a striking optimism-versus-anger choice of the GOP.


If we look at traditional campaign data, which under the smoke and veneer of Campaign 2016 still matters, what we will find is that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 100% is laying down a hell of a ground game and has tons of cash with not nearly the burn rate that even Jeb Bush has. Cruz stands to profit the most from the collapse of Carson, Fiorina, and Trump — all of whom are playing on the outsider advantages right now. Those advantages will start to go away as more traditional and necessary campaign tactics and strategies kick in like, for example, ballot access…

While conservatives will gravitate rapidly to Cruz, the more establishment oriented people who recognize the party still needs a fresh face and chage will likely go to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 92%. Already I’m hearing that both Walker and Bush donors are looking at Rubio as their next pick. Rubio has the highest positives of any of the candidates and is, in fact, the one Republican that the Democrats desperately fear because of his perceived ability to attract women, young voters, and Hispanics…

There’s still a lot that could change. But right now to me it looks like we are headed toward a Cruz vs. Rubio primary and, given how well the outsiders are doing currently, Cruz has a slight advantage.


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