That's what I've been thinking. The problem is, Cruz is working hard to change his image -- and he's having some success.
Check this out:
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz will air a Christmas-themed parody infomercial during the broadcast of this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live.”
... The ad, which features the Texas senator read Christmas classics like “Rudolph the Underemployed Reindeer” and “The Grinch Who Lost Her Emails,” will air in key Iowa markets Saturday night, campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told the Independent Journal.
“In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, we are excited to bring a Cruz family Christmas into the homes of SNL viewers in Iowa,” she told the website. “Ted is a long time fan of SNL, so the chance to film his own SNL-style commercial was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up!”
On one level, this is cringe-inducing. On another level, the ad -- which features Cruz's wife and two young, adorable daughters -- makes him seem like a harmless suburban dad you'd probably think of as a good family man if he were your neighbor, even if you hated his politics. (A lot of political observers think Mitt Romney hurt himself in 2012 by not doing a lot of dorky-dad ads, and Cruz seems determined not to make the same mistake.) The jokes are the usual tiresome right-wing attacks -- Lois Lerner! Obamacare! -- but done up this way, they seem almost gentle. And yet if, like Cruz, you're middle-aged, the comedy probably seems almost hip. Most humorous political ads are so wheezy and dated that this seems practically postmodern by comparison.
Cruz has been working hard to make himself seem human and relatable. A couple of weeks ago there was a wave of stories about the appearance on YouTube of Cruz "B-roll" -- unused raw footage from ads featuring the candidate and members of his family. The story was that the Cruz campaign and Cruz-affiliated super PACs can't actually work together on ads, but the campaign is allowed to post raw footage online, which the super PACs can then magically happen upon and use in ads of their own.
The real story, however, was that the Cruz campaign got media outlets, including many that aren't usually Cruz-friendly, to post highlight reels depicting Cruz as -- again -- a genial dork dad in a plaid shirt, and much less of a monster than many of us think he is. Here's Gawker's compilation:
This isn't funny. This is scary. Cruz could be the nominee, and much of the public really might fall for this sort of thing and imagine that he's not really a bad guy, and certainly not the dangerous extremist he actually is.
Let me remind you that in the Real Clear Politics averages, Cruz trails Hillary Clinton by only 2.6 points. (Trump trails Clinton by 6.6.) In the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Clinton beats Trump by 10, but she beats Cruz by only 3.
Because most people don't follow politics very closely, Cruz's awfulness is not self-evident to the broad public. He might be surprisingly good at softening his image. If so, be afraid.