Why Republicans Should be Worried About Ted Cruz as Well


Conventional wisdom says vulnerable Senate Republicans would like to share the ticket in November with anyone but Donald Trump. But the apparent replacement choice, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), might not be much better for them.

It’s hard to imagine a more far-right presidential candidate than Cruz, who has shown little to no willingness to appeal to the broader electorate that Republicans arguably need to win the White House and maintain control of the Senate. Some political analysts even think Republicans’ majority in the House could be in play with not just a Trump nomination, but also a Cruz nomination.

But as Cruz celebrates a big win Tuesday in Wisconsin, a Cruz-Trump battle for a majority of delegates at July’s Republican National Convention looks more and more likely. That means it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Cruz could be the next GOP nominee.

Here are four reasons why that should still worry Republicans — plus one reason they’d probably prefer Cruz over Trump anyway:

1. Senate Republicans don’t like Cruz

This first point is something many of us, whether you’re a U.S. Senate candidate or not, can relate to: It’s tough to work with a guy you don’t like.

Cruz is one of the least popular members — if not the least popular member — of the Senate among both Democrats and Republicans. Two out of his 53 Senate GOP colleagues have endorsed him, and those two — Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) — waited until March to do so. Graham made clear that he was holding his nose to support Cruz. He previously compared Trump and Cruz to being “poisoned” vs. being “shot.”

It’s easy to see why Senate Republicans are frustrated with him. Since running for Senate in 2012, Cruz has gone to war with his own party at least five high-profile times — from engineering the opposition that led to a 2013 government shutdown in his attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act, to making his colleagues come back to work on a Saturday at the last minute in a futile attempt to stop President Obama’s immigration actions from taking effect.

After all that drama, Senate Republicans might be in the unenviably awkward position this fall of having to publicly embrace their least favorite guy on campus. Perhaps Trump’s rise has made them forget how little affection they have for Cruz; Cruz being the nominee could quickly reinforce that reality.

2. Cruz is broadly very unpopular, too

Here’s what comes to mind for Senate Republicans — and much of the nation — when they think of Cruz: a socially conservative politician who caters to the religious and tea party right, and not many other people.

Republicans worry that Cruz’s far-right politics may make it tough for him to appeal to a broader electorate, especially because he hasn’t shown much of an inclination to support policies that might be more agreeable to moderate Republican and independent voters.

More than half of Americans — 51 percent — already think of Cruz unfavorably, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. That’s nowhere near Trump’s 67 percent unfavorability rating. But it is on par with that of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, even as Cruz is less well-known. Cruz’s favorable rating (35 percent), meanwhile, is 11 points lower than Clinton’s (46 percent). He is not a popular guy.

In head-to-head general election matchups — with all the caveats that apply with such polling — Clinton beats Cruz by an average of three points.

Of course, we’ve never seen Cruz in a position where he has needed to appeal to moderate voters to win. He’s a senator from Texas, one of the most conservative states in the nation, and he’s running in one of the most conservative presidential primaries in recent history.

There’s always the chance that if Cruz is nominated, he would step back from his proposals to build a wall along the Mexican border or patrol U.S. neighborhoods for suspected terrorists. But aside from offering some platitudes Tuesday night about “uniting” the party, he has not indicated that he would shift his policies.

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SOURCE: Amber Phillips
The Washington Post