The latest Q-Polls (which Ed already covered for you) solidified a recent trend which more than a few people had been predicting. The Donald may still be on top, but Ted Cruz is circling like a shark and is rapidly moving withing striking distance. And don’t think that people haven’t noticed… they have, and more than a few are beyond unhappy over these recent developments. As long as it was just Trump and Ben Carson at the top of the heap with everyone else in single digits, both the media and the GOP establishment seemed content to simply ignore the Texas senator as one more member of a choir nobody was really listening to. But now Cruz is in double digits, joining a very small, elite club, and is nearing a statistical tie with Trump in Iowa. Sweaty palms inside the Beltway and around Manhattan have ensued.
Ed cited Chris Cillizza, who described Cruz as the “sleeping giant” in the race.
Dig deeper into the findings and things look even better for the senator from Texas. Although Cruz is at 16 percent among all Republicans, he runs significantly stronger among three subgroups: “very” conservative voters, tea party supporters and white born-again/evangelical voters. Those subgroups are also the three most important and powerful when it comes to deciding the GOP nominee in 2016.
When it comes to the mainstream media, however, Cillizza’s may be the only kind (or at least objective) voice out there in terms of evaluating Ted Cruz. As a counterpoint, take a look at Frank Bruni’s 25 paragraph long hysterical diatribe against Cruz in the New York Times. To read the man’s panic-stricken ranting you’d think Godzilla had just shown up in Arlington and was headed for the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge.
More and more Republican insiders talk about a battle between Cruz and Marco Rubio for the nomination, or about a three-way, if you will, among Cruz, Rubio and Trump.
And in the voices of these insiders I hear horror, because Trump and Cruz are nasty pieces of work.
Cruz will work overtime in the months ahead to persuade you otherwise. The religious right already adores him, but to go the distance, he needs more support from other, less conservative Republicans, and he knows it. Expect orchestrated glimpses of a high-minded Cruz, less skunk than statesman, his sneer ceding territory to a smile…
Anyone but Cruz: That’s the leitmotif of his life, stretching back to college at Princeton. His freshman roommate, Craig Mazin, told Patricia Murphy of The Daily Beast: “I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book.”
It’s not easy to come across on-the-record quotes like that, and Mazin’s words suggest a disdain that transcends ideology. They bear heeding.
That was, as I alluded to above, only a sample from a long, long essay. All of it is of the same distinct flavor. This sudden movement to Crucify Cruz (Cruzify?) is really just the next phase of the GOP establishment and their liberal critics doing just what they’ve been attempting to do regarding Donald Trump. The real irony in all of this is the same thing I mentioned back in the spring, long before Trump was officially on the scene. At that time, Cruz was supposed to be “the crazy man” in the race. Everyone hated him… and by “everyone” I mean the people who didn’t want to see a conservative firebrand who would rock the establishment boat running off with the nomination. Cruz has made so many enemies inside the Republican Party power structure that I doubt even he can keep track of them all.
He also built a reputation for being the sole person to blame for the government shutdown, though I’ve never been entirely clear as to how one freshman senator ever accumulated that sort of earthshaking power. He’s definitely had a take no prisoners attitude from day one, though, and that makes people nervous. The rather humorous point of all this is that Cruz may have been one of the biggest benefactors of Trump’s rise. As I suggested above, Cruz was supposed to be the crazy horse in the field. But once Trump arrived everyone forgot about him and Trump’s bodacious antics actually made Ted Cruz look more mainstream.
It’s not just the political Left like Frank who are on board with this theme. Here’s a tweet from this morning by Bill Kristol.
is the GOP establishment mobilizing to fight the last war? Panicked about @realDonaldTrump, but probably should worry more about @tedcruz.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) December 2, 2015
I’m not sure if the panic button has actually been pushed yet, but it’s getting close to that point. If this race were to come down to a choice between Trump and Cruz I think you’d see some GOP power brokers jumping off the Washington Monument.