What Ted Cruz would risk by running in 2016

Cruz may be thinking to himself, “If Obama could do it, why can’t I?”

Though running for president in 2016 represents an opportunity for Cruz, it also represents a potentially huge risk, because a run could undermine his long-term effectiveness as a Senator. Cruz is a focal point of the effort to make sure there’s a critical mass of conservatives in the Senate pushing the agenda to the right. If a Republican is elected president in 2016, conservatives will still need strong conservative leadership from within Congress.

If Cruz runs and his candidacy flames out, it could hinder this goal. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is an example of somebody whose profile shrank substantially due to an unsuccessful presidential run. Right now, a lot of Cruz’s power rests in the fact that he has the ability to rally masses of conservative activists around his cause. But if he runs for the GOP presidential nomination and does poorly, his Republican establishment adversaries could conclude that his support is a mile deep but an inch wide, thus he can be easily ignored. That would deal a greater blow to his ability to advance a conservative agenda than if he declined to run and instead exerted influence from the outside.