Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ted Cruz is Ready to Pounce

The Name of the Image File from Google Image Search is Ted-Cruz-Smarmy!
Ted Cruz has outlined a plan to win the nomination that could possibly work:

  1. Firstly, he plans to position himself so as to attract outsider and marginal candidate votes as other candidates drop out. As noted in previous posts, he's directly appealing to libertarians (Rand Paul), Trump-voters, and evangelicals (to pick up Jindal, Santorum, and Huckabee voters).
  2. Secondly, his move is to expand the electorate of 2012 where white non-Hispanic voters turned out at lower percentages than blacks and Hispanics. Specifically he wants the blue-collar whites that Romney failed to impress. 
  3. To this effect he is engaging in sophisticated behavioral targeting using signifiers like owning an F-150 pickup truck and/or subscribing to Guns & Ammo magazine to figure out which issues might turn a historic non-voter into a voter.
At a time when most Republican field offices are on the small side, Cruz has ginned up a powerful and well-staffed ground game across the early states designed to take advantage of the slate of collapses that will happen once people start losing for real.

This is a pretty good idea. This tool from RCP lets you allocate polling points from one candidate to another. Here's The Omnivore's Trump-Collapse scenario:

In this scenario, Trump bows out and Cruz gets 1/3rd of his vote--the rest distributed evenly. Bush and Rubio hold constant--but the evangelicals (Santorum, Jindal, and Huckabee) fold and Cruz gets their voters as well. Paul's vote goes largely to Cruz too--but Christie and Kasich go to Rubio.

This represents a "reasonable scenario" (so says The Omnivore) where Cruz benefits from Fiorina and Carson still vacuuming up a substantial percentage of the vote which keeps Bush down and Rubio viable.

On Super Tuesday, March 15th 2016, Either Rubio or Jeb wins Florida and the other one drops. Assuming Jeb loses Florida, Rubio gets 7% of his 9pts--and the rest goes evenly: Rubio is less than a point ahead of Cruz and Carson and Fiorina are still in the race. Who do you think will pick up the outsider vote of the two of them?

What Could Stop Cruz?

Cruz has done a great job of fund-raising--bringing in a ton of "hard money" and coming in second only to Jeb. He didn't crush the debates but he didn't suck either. He seems to be fairly gaffe-resistant: he's smart and knows where he stands on the issues--unlike, say, Walker. He has good policy presentation--but doesn't come off as a hopeless wonk like Jindal.

The number-one threat to Cruz is Trump staying in until the convention. So long as Trump is sitting on the outsider-vote, Cruz is going to run behind Carson and Fiorina. It's unclear who would get Fiorina's vote if she were to leave suddenly--and Carson, running seemingly effortlessly and invisibly (to the main-stream media--not to his voter-base) doesn't have any obvious reason to drop out until at least least Super Tuesday--which, if he keeps a bunch of his vote, could cost Cruz evangelicals.

A second problem that should be bigger--but seemingly is not--is that the GOP Establishment really doesn't like him and would vastly prefer Rubio or Jeb. This will give him problems in anything but a Cruz-landslide scenario. Donor networks will firm-up against him, there will be superPAC attack ads from several sides, and on the convention floor, they'll do everything they can to refuse him delegates (this happened to Ron Paul last time). On the other hand, today the GOPe is a wounded half-dead animal--perhaps dangerous--but seemingly beaten down and weakened. 

The Omnivore will find that the bellwether for the GOPe's fight is the Speaker Chaos. If they fold and get an interim speaker--or go with someone the Freedom Caucus chooses, then they are probably unwilling to face down an ascendant Cruz.

The final problem for Cruz is that he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Even fellow Republicans find him arrogant and preachy on occasion. He might have a "likability deficit" like you-know-who. The current environment will certainly punish anyone who tries to soften their image too much.


The Omnivore had felt that Walker was a favorite and Cruz was a non-starter. It's looking like that may be the other way around. Where Walker seemingly couldn't keep from making a mistake every news-cycle, Cruz is building his base, standing up his ground game, and lining up big-money donors (while raking in small-money support--both are important). 

While "wait for the collapse and the capitalize on the chaos" isn't a real strategy for people without the resources to properly prepare for it (like the Neo-Reactionaries who plan to see some kind of major societal collapse) for people with the resources and the positioning to capitalize on a gross system failure it can be a bonanza ("Where there is blood in the streets, buy real estate!" is an example of good advice along those lines).

Cruz knows the blood is coming. He's already putting down his hotels on the real estate.

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