Sen. Ted Cruz is hoping to ride the conservative backlash on gay marriage to the front of the Republican presidential pack.Right -- and in the same poll, Ben Carson is at 10% and Scott Walker is at 17%.
The Texas Republican has hit the Supreme Court with repeated rhetorical barbs in the wake of its ruling Friday that allowed for same-sex marriage in all 50 states, calling the justices “lawless,” “elites” and “a threat to our democracy.”
... The Texas senator has been courting the religious right from the start of his presidential bid, launching his candidacy this spring at the evangelical Liberty University.
But he has competition for the conservative mantle, with rivals, such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also taking aim at the Supreme Court.
... Cruz needs to make up ground in Iowa, which is the first state in the presidential nominating process. A Des Moines Register poll released late last month found only 5 percent of potential caucus-goers listed Cruz as their first choice for president.
By comparison, Huckabee, who won Iowa in 2008, garnered 9 percent in that poll.
My first thought when I read this was that perhaps white religious conservatives see Cruz as a bit too, um, foreign. Compare him to Scott Walker, a Wisconsin preacher's kid who talks the Christian talk on the trail ("Jesus affects my life no matter what I do"). And compare him to Mike Huckabee, a white minister who exudes Southernness. But then there's Ben Carson -- a black city kid who's also developed a big following among evangelical voters. I don't think ethnicity is Cruz's problem. It may not even be Bobby Jindal's problem.
I think the problem Jindal and Cruz might be having with these voters is that their religious conservatism doesn't seem baked into their makeup. With Cruz, it seems added on. (Jindal just seems to be trying too hard.) From what I read about Walker and Carson, the God talk just seems to flow naturally. Cruz seems as if he's glommed onto it as a source of bullet points to use in debates; he comes off as a sincere wingnut, but not so much as a sincere conservative Christian.
Rafael Cruz, Ted's father, might be able to make some inroads with this crowd -- Byron York calls him "the most effective surrogate of the 2016 campaign." Of course, he actually is a right-wing preacher. But I'm not sure he's effective enough to change the impression his son conveys: a right-wing zealot, yes, but one who got that way not by praying but by being trapped in Enemy Territory (i.e., the Ivy League). Ted has to make people think he feels this stuff in his bones. I don't think the church-social crowd buys that.