Analysis: What sunk Ted Cruz?

Cruz Zigged While the GOP Electorate Zagged

By Patrick Murray

ted cruz2The Cruz campaign’s attempt to coalesce the #NeverTrump movement around their candidate #NeverHappened.  In hindsight, the attempt to position him as the establishment alternative may not have been the wisest move.

Ted Cruz entered the 2016 presidential race with a reputation as the Senate Republican conference’s enfant terrible.  He ended his campaign as the establishment’s last hope to deny Donald Trump the party’s nomination.  The problem is that GOP voters’ desire for a political outsider intensified just as he was making this pivot.

Exit polls conducted by the national media’s National Election Pool asked voters in 24 different contests this year whether the next president should have experience in politics or be from outside the political establishment.

In the first four contests held in February, Republican voters were divided – 49 percent wanted an outsider while 45 percent favored someone with political experience.  The preference for an insider fell off in early March’s Super Tuesday primaries – with 49 percent still wanting an outsider but only 41 percent looking for political experience.

By the mid-March primaries, a 52 percent majority of GOP voters preferred a political outsider compared to 41 percent who still wanted an experienced politician.  The gap widened in the April contests, with nearly 6-in-10 Republicans (59 percent) wanting an outsider and just 37 percent favoring an insider.  In yesterday’s Indiana primary, the results for this question stood at 59 percent outsider and 35 percent insider.

The Cruz recasting gambit worked to the extent that he was ultimately seen as the establishment candidate – 68 percent of Indiana Republicans who want an insider voted for him.  In the very first contest of 2016 – the Iowa caucuses – Marco Rubio was actually the preferred candidate of voters wanting someone with political experience, even though Cruz was the overall winner on the night.

However, Donald Trump has been the favored choice of GOP voters looking for a true outsider since the very beginning of the primary season.  He won 46 percent of this group’s vote in Iowa, culminating with a 78 percent showing in Indiana three months later.

In retrospect, Cruz’s pivot to being the face of the establishment was a mistake.  Cruz ceded the outsider mantle to Trump at the very same time the Republican base’s desire for an outsider grew.

Patrick Murray is the Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute



Posted: May 4th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Presidential Politics, Donald Trump, Monmouth County, Monmouth University Poll, Patrick Murray | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “Analysis: What sunk Ted Cruz?”

  1. Tom Stokes said at 10:51 am on May 4th, 2016:

    It must be obvious to all that both major parties are feeling the burn of anger by the people against the establishment in both parties.

    For too long, far too many people of all races, creeds and political conviction, from left to right, have felt left out of the process; that Wall Street and other special interests bought off all the politicians as the working class suffered. Betrayal is the word most used in exit polls of voters in this primary season.

    The American Dream has always been for all who work to pull themselves and their families up through hard work and entrepreneurial skills. Businesses need workers; businesses provide jobs to those workers. When government intervention through bureaucratic regulations suppresses the development of business in the United States, workers suffer.

    Far too many manufacturing jobs have been sent overseas, whether to Mexico or China doesn’t really matter – these are jobs lost to the American working man and woman. This has sown the seeds of destruction to the American Dream.

    The soon to be $21 TRILLION government debt is a clear path to fiscal insanity and suicide.

    Now with the advent of technology, computers and robots are replacing even more workers. This will spell the end of Social Security, as currently there is no Social Security fee on automation (that may yet come) to replace the monies that otherwise would be contributed by the worker and employer. The worker base is shrinking; the retired base is growing and it is looming larger as a major problem for current and future retirees. That is a simple fact.

    Yes, there is much discontent throughout this country and Washington elitists are being sent a message by the voters in both major parties. Government has gotten too big and intrusive into our lives. Free speech and the right for a civilized debate has been drowned by those who scream for “political correctness”.

    The message seems to be very clear.

    Enough is enough. Get America back to work again! Restore our liberties and freedoms! Get government off the backs of entrepreneurs and workers.

    Let’s all work together to make this country, our country, great again.

    May God Bless the American worker and may God Bless the United States of America.

  2. Mike Harmon said at 4:40 pm on May 4th, 2016:

    Tom Stokes for VP!