Donald J. Trump commands the news cycle. He is a master of that, and it shows. He offers a voice to working class Reactionary white voters, which is a significant bloc within the Republican Party. Having owned this bloc, he has led the polls. A dozen other candidates split the rest of the Republican voting blocs. A bloc that is as great as Donald J. Trump's working class Reactionary white voters are evangelical Christian white voters. Many, for a time, flirted with Dr. Ben Carson as an option. However, the candidate who this bloc will coalesce around is Ted Cruz.
The Republican primary electorate has been looking for an "outsider". Fed up with the "establishment", these voters hope for salvation via a candidate who is not part of it. This is partly why the candidates seen as being of the professional class, those like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, current Ohio governor John Kasich, and current Florida senator Marco Rubio, continue to languish far behind the "outsider" candidates.
Being on the inside, essentially, means one who is part of the elite and well connected. These are humans coming from elite families, who attended the premier education institutions, or who have worked in the highest levels of government for much of their professional careers. The poster boy for "establishment" is Jeb Bush, who is the grandson of a US senator, son of a US president, and brother of a US president, who also attended the elite schools, while also having professional experience working in government. In most professions, having a candidate for hire with the most experience, best education, and the top connections such a background ensures, would be an asset during the interview. However, during consideration for hiring for the most challenging job in the nation, having a relevant background is, for many voters, especially those in the GOP, a significant liability.
All of the candidates know their base prefers the outsider. In spite of this, some are holding on to their establishment roots, knowing that in a general election nationwide, this makes them more competitive. They hope to get through the early primary and just survive the process, without doing too much damage in the process that could come back and hurt them in the general election. This is what helps to keep Jeb Bush less-than-competitive at this stage, allowing Senator Marco Rubio an opening to potentially replace Bush as the establishment alternative. Other candidates, whether with establishment credentials or not, have all been actively playing up their "outsider" status, however they can frame or spin it.
Current Wisconsin governor Scott Walker tried this route, as did former Texas governor Rick Perry. Being a first term US senator, even Marco Rubio tries to walk a line between being both an establishment option as well as an outsider, as he continues defining his message and campaign. Carly Fiorina is all establishment, though her entire campaign brand is of her being an outsider. Obviously, like with Walker and Perry, no amount of bullshit can hide that she is entirely establishment. The 2010 GOP nominee for US senator from California also held senior roles within the campaigns of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as well as the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, John McCain. Those relationships, by definition, put one clearly on the "inside". One simply cannot get any more "inside" than being a phone call away from a potential sitting US president. Add to that is her being a former CEO of a Fortune 500 company - Hewlett-Packard. That is elite and well connected, by most standards.
Natural outsiders are Donald J. Trump and Dr. Ben Carson. Though both are elites, owing to their wealth and professional success, neither have ever sought public office, and neither have held high roles with previous presidential nominees. They are elites, but compared to other candidates, they are the furthest from being insiders. Trump, being born into a wealthy family and inheriting wealth, is far more elite than Carson, who is a self-made human. A nod may also go to current Kentucky senator Rand Paul, only in so far as the legacy of his father and the libertarian style of politics of his family is outside the mainstream of nationwide American politics. However, that can be his only claim. Being the fathers' son, and inheriting that legacy, makes him more like Jeb Bush, and being a sitting US senator stretches the idea of what "outsider" even means. There are only one hundred US senators in a nation of 350 million, all living and working in the capitol, with tremendous power at their fingers, so being a senator makes any outsider claim tenuous by default.
While the GOP primary electorate remains divided, essentially into three stupidly simplistic camps (for the purpose of discussion), 1] working class Reactionary whites, 2] establishment Republicans, and 3] evangelical Christian whites, the fight has been over the latter two, as Trump holds the first. However, he seems to have a ceiling in his support. Having pretty much all of one bloc, with a split among the rest, gives him the steady and commanding lead shown thus far. Eventually, however, other candidates will drop out, and their supporters will go somewhere. Most, likely, will not go to Trump. Many will coalesce around the candidate holding the establishment mantle, which may end up being a Bush or Rubio. The evangelicals need a home, and with Carson finally losing his shine, there is Senator Cruz. He has been lapping up Carson defectors, while also actively placing himself in a solid position to inherit more Trump supporters than any other candidate, assuming Trump flops. If Trump drops, and Cruz inherits, he will merge 1] working class Reactionary whites with 3] evangelical Christian whites and thus crush whomever holds 2] establishment Republicans.
The Cruz Phenomena
Senator Cruz is pretty amazing. In spite of being a graduate of Princeton and Harvard - the crème de la crème of elite schools in the United States – he claims to be an outsider. In spite of years working as a lobbyist in Washington DC, or being a solicitor at the United States Supreme Court, he claims to be an outsider. In spite of holding a top post within the campaign of 2000 GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush, in spite of personally referring John Roberts to President George W. Bush, who then appointed Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he claims to be an outsider. In spite of being married to a senior executive at Goldman Sachs – a principal player on Wall Street – he claims to be an outsider. With all of this, while also being a sitting US senator, Crus has, somehow, convinced most Republican voters that he in an outsider. I would argue that, where Jeb Bush is the poster boy for insiders, Cruz is the human in the photo next to the definition of the term. Though class pride is a fine thing, how many people wear their class ring throughout their life? The idea of wearing a Princeton class ring every day strikes me as elitism.
Regardless of such elitism and insider credentials, part of his outsider message is that he is the son of a Cuban immigrant, much like Senator Marco Rubio. Additionally, as a senator, Cruz has infamously sought to antagonise his colleagues, thus helping his outsider claim. However, being the son of a Cuban immigrant does not make one an outsider, nor is ensuring everyone you work with loathes you as a snob. Simply put, Cruz is no outsider, but he has very successfully made it his brand. For that achievement, I salute him!
Another interesting thing about Cruz is his place of birth. I only mention it because most humans in America and around the world are surely very familiar with the years of conspiracy and innuendo regarding US president Barack Obama. While a candidate, claims that he was born in Kenya emerged, and thus assertions made that he was unqualified on constitutional grounds from being president. These claims and conspiracies dogged the president for much of his two terms in office, being loudest in each of his two elections. It is one issue that brought Donald J. Trump partisan attention, as he eventually became a significant cheerleader of the theory. Whether one accepts the conspiracy or not, one thing is certain: officially speaking, Obama was born in the US state of Hawai'i, to an American mother and Kenyan father. Many in the Republican base continue to believe that Obama is Kenyan born. At the same time Obama was catching crap from these conspiracy theories, Republican voters did not seem to care that their candidate challenging Obama in 2008, John McCain, was officially born in the South American nation of Panama. This curious contradiction is on full display with Senator Cruz who, like Obama, has a foreign-born father and American mother. Unlike Obama, officially speaking, Cruz was born Canuckistan [Canada], which is, by some accounts, a foreign nation. Thus where with Obama it was true his father was foreign born and a conspiracy theory that he was not born in the United States, with Cruz, he has a foreign-born father is it is an undisputed fact he was not born in the United States.
Given that it was such a seemingly endless issue, of which so many were so passionate, certain, and determined, including countless lawsuits challenging the status and legitimacy of the president, up to and including the unprecedented move from a president - that of releasing his birth certificate for public review - it seems very curious that Cruz commands such support from many of the very same humans who cared, and continue to care, so much about the issue. Personally, I think all of the birth stuff is trivial nonsense. Nonetheless, I feel it is worth mentioning only because of so many years of it being such an issue within the United States.
I talked of the primary process in an earlier post. Many candidates run only to increase their profile, open doors to future careers, and so on. Only a few actually run with a sincere intent of winning election to president of the United States. Regardless, whomever wins the GOP nomination is facing an uphill challenge to win. The nature of the electoral system in the United States presently favours Democratic candidates, who have won the popular vote in five of the last six general elections. Part of the reason is demographic changes, where, for example, any GOP candidate would have to win somewhere near forty percent of Latino voters to have any plausible shot, or find an effective way to depress voter turnout. Because of the general hostility from the GOP regarding issues many Latino voters are concerned about, achieving such a number of them as voters may be out of reach, and with that, so too the presidency. Adding more nails to this coffin is the GOP turning off other voting blocs, like African Americans and, especially recently, American Muslims. Though American Muslims are a small constituency, they can be decisive in states like Michigan, where they are more concentrated. Without effectively appealing to non-white voters, and essentially relying almost exclusively on white voters, especially male, the numbers simply are not there. Short of broadening their appeal, depressing the voter turnout of minority voters would be the only way to balance the scale, so to speak.
Many conservatives have long claimed the problem has been the Republican Party nominating moderates, and that if the Republican Party nominates a "true conservative", they will win in a landslide
The candidate who merges 1] working class Reactionary whites, 2] establishment Republicans, and 3] evangelical Christian whites, and then drives them to the polls, would be competitive, despite baked in electoral disadvantages. Other factors, like war or an economic downturn, would increase their odds significantly, and possibly open the door to victory. Trump winning the GOP nomination will result in an epic defeat for the party. Many Republicans, including those favouring the establishment, may sit out the election. On the other side, Bush and Rubio, even Kasich, can expand their electorate and be competitive. If Trump loses the primary, and then chooses to run as an independent, this too would crush the GOP in the presidential election. The one good thing, from a GOP perspective, is that a Trump independent run might motivate many irregular voters show up, and they might vote for Republicans for lower offices on the ballot - a loss for the presidency but major gains in congress and state offices. This then leaves us with Cruz.
Because Cruz is, truly, about as establishment as they come, and if he were to do well during the primaries, it is likely he can bring establishment voters to his camp. Many conservatives have long claimed the problem has been the Republican Party nominating moderates, and that if the Republican Party nominates a "true conservative", they will win in a landslide. No doubt, Cruz is very conservative, and can play that angle. He has actively sought to be an alternative to Trump, so he may be able to absorb many Trump voters. In fact, he may aim to get a Trump endorsement, if it comes to that. Additionally, a hope expressed is that Latino voters will support him because he is a Latino (similar claims have been made of Rubio). I consider this far-fetched, as it assumes Latinos will support someone they do not agree with on issues most important to them, based solely on ethnicity. That seems unlikely, and such claims are surely offensive. Regardless, Cruz could get more than most, and so he holds a great position in this primary campaign.
Furthermore, Cruz has something else going for him - something far more decisive. He has been doing what many have not - building a ground game with a large map. Where some have gone all in on one or two states, Cruz is in dozens. He has been aggressively organising and campaigning in critical early states, including many Southern states that vote en mass in March. He seems best positioned to win the first state to vote during the primaries - Iowa - that then will bring him great attention, and elevate him to front-runner status. He is likely to lose the second state to vote - New Hampshire - he may win, or at least come in second, in the third, South Carolina. Next is Nevada, where he may win again. Then comes many Southern states where has built a significant operation.
The 2016 GOP Nominee
Senator Cruz will lose many states throughout the primary process, but he will win many delegates along the way, especially in March. He may even get over fifty percent by the end of it. Many things may happen, and Trump will remain a wild card for some time. However, given Cruz is the best-positioned candidate to pick up Trump supporters, while also establishment enough to attract conventional partisans, and has the organisational depth to go all the way, Americans may find themselves looking at the 2016 GOP presidential nominee. Senator Ted Cruz may be the one to watch.