It's obvious that Ted Cruz wants to run for president in 2016, so this would seem to be a bad career move:
Ted Cruz is taking his hardball tactics to a whole new level.Yes, it seems like a bad career move -- but notice what's been going on in the polls for a long time now: Voters hate the Republican Party, according to polls, and really hate congressional Republicans.
The Texas freshman senator and his senior aides are unleashing a barrage of attacks on their fellow Republicans for refusing to support their plan to choke off Obamacare as a condition for funding the government. Cruz's chief of staff is lambasting fellow conservatives like Oklahoma's Tom Coburn for serving in the "surrender caucus." His top political strategist has compared Mitch McConnell to Barack Obama. And the senator himself has said many Republicans are "scared" to wage this fight.
... Cruz's strategy is a departure from the usually clubby chamber, as he's grown increasingly alienated from his caucus....
The reason the GOP's poll numbers are much worse than the Democratic Party's is that Republicans, unlike Democrats, tell pollsters they don't like their own party. See, for instance, the recent Marist poll (PDF), in which 68% of Democrats said they approved of the Democrats in Congress, but only 35% of Republicans approved of congressional Republicans.
None of this, mind you, prevents disgruntled Republicans from voting Republican. There's a simple reason for that. Republicans may dislike their party, but the majority of them dislike it because it's not right-wing enough. So, come Election Day, they're obviously going to vote for the most right-wing major party on the ballot, even though it falls short of their conservatively pure standards.
A Pew poll just released today confirms this: 67% of Republicans say they think their party "needs to address major problems" within the party, and a majority -- 54% -- think party leaders need to move in a more conservative direction.
And the folks who really think the GOP has gone wobbly are the teabaggers: 53% of tea party Republicans say the party has compromised too much with Democrats.
And teabaggers overrepresented in the Republican primary electorate, according to Pew:
Tea Party Republicans have influence in the GOP partly because of their high level of political engagement. Overall, they make up a minority (37%) of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationally. Yet this group is more likely than other GOP voters to say they always vote in primary elections; as a result they make up about half of the Republican primary electorate (49%).So, to sum up: In general, Republicans dislike their party, even though they vote for it. Teabaggers in particular see the party as a sinkhole of appalling squishiness -- and they vote more than non-teabaggers.
So, yeah, it's smart for Cruz to bash his own party.