But despite that impressive number, a key underlying dynamic in GOP presidential politics suggests that his likely presidential bid remains a long shot. Despite the Republican Party’s shift to the right in recent years, the post-Reagan GOP has never nominated the most conservative candidate in its field. And the recent nominations of John McCain and Mitt Romney have demonstrated the extent to which the party’s establishment has retained sway over the grassroots.
Ask a tuned-in Iowa operative which potential contender is getting the most buzz these days, and Cruz is likely to be the first name mentioned.
But ask Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum whether a win in Iowa and broad appeal among the party’s base is enough to propel someone to the nomination, and the answer to the previous question suddenly seems far less significant…
While Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — fellow ambitious Republicans who were swept into the Senate in the Tea Party wave of 2010 — have taken steps to court the party’s establishment, Cruz has thus far demonstrated little interest in doing the same.
His efforts this week may become a valuable infomercial to parade before the grassroots rank and file when the next presidential campaign kicks off in earnest. But in a field that will likely be crowded with charismatic conservatives, several of whom enjoy a broader spectrum of support, Cruz has yet to develop the kind of appeal that can carry him on the long slog of a presidential campaign.