Why is Ted Cruz doing so poorly in the pre-2016 race?Rubin has some theories:
Sen., Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is the darling of the tea party and right-wing talk radio. He is a smart man and fiery orator. And he is at 5 percent in national polls. It’s just as bad in Iowa, where he should be a crowd favorite. There he is in 7th place according to the RealClearPolitics average, barely ahead of Rick Santorum. While not an early primary state, a Virginia poll released yesterday put Cruz at 3 percent. At the first cattle call of the primary season he was upstaged by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. After a couple of years of nonstop attention-getting, he hardly is unknown to primary voters. Voters just don’t seem to like him. (His average unfavorable rating is about 40 percent, his favorable about 30 percent.)
... there is a difference between being presidential and being a gadfly. Like a moth to a flame, he cannot resist the urge to attack fellow Republicans. It’s wasted, destructive energy that is not helping the party or the country. And it sure isn’t helping him, at least so far.Yes, but Republican voters attack Republican officeholders all the time, usually making the same accusation Cruz does: that the officeholders have strayed from Correct Conservative Thinking. So that can't be it.
In addition, there is a high experience bar for the presidency -- especially after the last freshman senator turned out to be not ready for prime time. And that unfortunately for Cruz works to his detriment. There is no top 2016 contender with less experience in public office than he....Actually, that's not true -- Ben Carson has far less experience in public office than Cruz does (Carson has zero), and he's doing much better in the polls than Cruz.
[Cruz] seems to want the voters who like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), but think he is too nutty on foreign policy. However, hawks can’t embrace him because he sounds too Obama-like in decrying the NSA surveillance program and resisting calls for a robust plan to destroy the Islamic State. Who is the mystical voter to whom he appeals with a mish-mash of those positions? There are not enough pro-shutdown, anti-NSA, pro-Iran sanctions and anti-immigration voters to go around.Really? There certainly are plenty of Republican voters who are pro-shutdown, pro-Iran sanctions, and anti-immigration. (I'd say the vast majority agree with Cruz on the last two.) And lots of Republicans are afraid of the NSA (at least while Obama is president). Rubin has attacked Cruz for being weak on ISIS and said she vastly prefers the pure hawkishness of Marco Rubio -- but Rubio is also lagging in the polls. So what's up?
I think Cruz's problem with Republican voters is that, for all his bluster, he hasn't succeeded in doing anything that drove Democrats and liberals into spasms of impotent rage. Yes, he led a government shutdown, but that accomplished nothing for the right, and it (temporarily) hurt Republicans at the polls.
In contrast, look at the likely candidates who are ahead of Cruz in the Real Clear Politics poll averages. Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have the advantage of their family names. Mike Huckabee is an old, familiar figure from the 2008 race and from Fox News. Apart from those three, the candidates ahead of Cruz are Chris Christie (yes, still), Ben Carson, and Scott Walker. Christie left us lefties sputtering as he attacked New Jersey teachers (and pretty much anyone else who looked at him croswise). Ben Carson attacked President Obama at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Scott Walker undermined Wisconsin unions and survived a recall election.
Ted Cruz hasn't been nearly as successful at enraging his enemies. He seems to cause more trouble for Republicans than for us. Republicans voters can see that. So he's in Sarah Palin territory these days
Maybe that will change. But for now, he's not a threat.