Cruz's path to victory

A win in the first contest, previously written off as less significant than the second one, in New Hampshire, now appears likely to create powerful momentum for Cruz. Should he head straight to South Carolina to plant the first flag before its Feb. 20 vote, a nightmare scenario could result for establishment Republicans, who could end up splitting the vote in New Hampshire on Feb. 9 and serving as spoilers for a Trump victory in the state. To date, none of them have landed on a potent line of attack to stop Cruz in Iowa. Conceding the Hawkeye State could mean conceding the Palmetto State, too: in 2012, 65 percent of South Carolina GOP primary voters identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians.

So far Cruz’s plan is working, though history may prove it laughably futile. That’s because the senator doesn’t intend to win over the electorate, he plans to try to change it — like Barack Obama did. “Obama ran a masterful campaign,” he has said. “It was a grassroots guerilla campaign, encircled the Hillary campaign before they knew what hit them.”

The path to victory, Cruz insists, is through conservatives — not swing voters in the “mushy middle.” He thinks there are millions of white evangelical Republicans he can inspire who sat out elections in 2012 and 2008, when the GOP nominated moderate Republicans. He maintains “if the body of Christ rises up as one and votes our values we can turn this country around.” (The number crunchers disagree: voters who stayed home did so in red or blue states, not in battleground states, therefore they weren’t decisive in GOP losses.)