How Ted Cruz’s Braggadocio Could Backfire

ted cruz for presidentTed Cruz’s braggadocio is the size of Texas. Just six months after moseying into Washington he’s challenged hallowed norms and all but disregarded the marching orders from his party elders.

It’s tempting to dismiss Senator Ted Cruz as a wacko bird, as his colleague Senator John McCain has called him, or at the very least as a foolish political newbie.

But there is nothing wacko about Ted Cruz.  Quite the contrary, he’s sharp as a tack, charismatic, and ambitious.  As Steven Nuño discussed in his column every step Cruz takes, as crazy as it may seem, is carefully calibrated to position himself for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination.  Having secured his conservative base in Texas, Cruz has moved on to the task of recruiting conservatives across the country to his brand.

Ted Cruz has shown himself to be a gifted campaigner and a silver-tongued orator.  Together these attributes will ease his run for the Republican presidential nomination.  And he’s got a pretty good shot at capturing the nomination.

However, his crusade for the presidency will sputter once in the general.   Sure, all candidates run to the extremes in primaries, but Ted Cruz’s brand of extremes will just not do outside of the Republican party.

In other words, sorry Mr. Cruz, no Oval Office for you.

Some may argue, though, that Ted Cruz doesn’t get the promotion, but he still ends up on his feet.  Being a U.S. Senator may not have the perks of being the President, but it’s still a pretty cushy job.

Not so fast.

This is where Cruz’s presidential crusade could backfire and cost him his day job.  Cruz will be up for his Senate seat in 2018 – two years after having made his push for the Presidency by highlighting his conservative credentials.  But in 2018, Texas may not have the taste for Cruz’s hard right views.

To be sure, Texas will still be a Red state.  But moderate Republicans such as George P. Bush, and Democrats such as Wendy Davis, will be moving the state farther and farther away from its deep red hue.

The 2018 Senate race also holds out the potential to mobilize the Democratic Hispanic Texas electorate.  It’s rumored that state representative Trey Martinez Fischer will challenge Cruz.  As chair of the state’s Mexican-American caucus, Martinez Fischer has spent years cultivating and mobilizing the Latino electorate.  Moreover, he could use Cruz’s opposition on issues that disproportionately affect Hispanics—immigration and healthcare—to mobilize the growing Latino electorate.  And with the likely run for Texas Governor by Wendy Davis, Texas Democrats will begin to get their electoral operation in shape.

victoria defrancesco sotoFor the short term Cruz’s theatrical strategy will get him notoriety and political rock star status.  And in the medium term it very well may clinch him the Republican presidential nomination.  But in the long term it will likely backfire, making his Senate prospects tenuous at best, ultimately taking him out of the political spotlight he so loves.

Victoria Defrancesco Soto

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on September 28, 2013
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About Victoria DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University and a Faculty Fellow at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research. She received her Ph.D. from Duke University in 2007 during which time she was a National Science Foundation Fellow. DeFrancesco Soto was recently named one of the top 12 scholars in the country by Diverse magazine.

Victoria’s research analyzes how human thought and emotion shapes political behavior. Her academic work focuses on: campaigns and elections, political marketing, race and ethnic politics, and immigration. Her academic research has been widely published in scholarly journals and edited volumes. In 2008, Dr. DeFrancesco Soto was Northwestern University’s principal investigator for the Big Ten Battleground Poll, a public opinion survey of voters for the 2008 Presidential election. She is currently working on a book manuscript that analyzes the emergence of conservative feminism.

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