Ted Cruz makes his move

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Ted Cruz at the 2011 Value Voters Summit

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Ted Cruz at the 2011 Value Voters Summit

Ted Cruz at the 2011 Value Voters Summit

Ted Cruz at the 2011 Value Voters Summit

The religious right may be yesterday’s news, but its signal accomplishment, the white evangelical voting bloc, remains the Republican Party’s most important constituency. And it’s moving toward Ted Cruz.

The latest numbers from Iowa show Cruz neck and neck with Donald Trump thanks to evangelical support. According to Quinnipiac, it’s now Trump at 25 percent, Cruz at 23 percent, and Ben Carson slipping to 18 percent among all likely Republican caucus-goers. White evangelicals, who make up 60 percent of them, now favor Cruz over Carson, 27 percent to 24 percent, with Trump at 20 percent.

And as white evangelicals in Iowa go, so goes Evangelical Nation.

Cruz’s surge is no accident. As the Washington Post‘s Kate Zezima made clear in a fine piece of political reporting the other day, he has made appealing to evangelicals the centerpiece of his campaign strategy. The Baptist son of a popular Baptist minister, he announced his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in March and he’s dedicated himself to lining up evangelical bigwigs.

He has no hesitancy about campaigning on the social issues of the day, denouncing the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision and standing up for Kentucky county clergy Kim Davis. On the church circuit, he uses the meme popularized a decade ago by Karl Rove: If all those evangelicals who didn’t come to the polls last time just turn out, the presidency is ours in a cakewalk.

“If 10 million more evangelical Christians show up in November 2016, we’re not going to be staying up until 3 in the morning wondering what happened in Ohio or Florida,” Cruz told a Baptist congregation in South Carolina earlier this month. “They’ll call the election at 8:35 p.m. That’s what 10 million more evangelical Christians at the polls will do.”

The problem is, it’s not going to happen. The white evangelical vote that has sustained the GOP since the rise of the religious right half a century ago is a shrinking portion of the electorate, as the following graphic dramatically demonstrates.

2012 Election coalitions

2012 Election coalitions

Bottom line? As the Democratic-voting Nones grow up and become frequent voters, the white evangelical base of the GOP is aging out. So if Ted Cruz manages to ride his evangelical strategy to the Republican nomination, the general election will make him a victim of his success.

  • Benn

    Ted Cruz is a circus clown, and evangelicals are an embarrassment to our nation.

  • Larry
  • GW

    Hey Benn, looks like you are going to get your way. Obama is going to bring a million Muslims into the US over the next 5 years. They will take over but at least you did not have to be embarrassed by the circus clown Ted Cruz.

  • Larry

    Hey GW, you have to stop quoting World Net Daily as a news source. Its strictly for wingnuts and foil hat crowd.

    Btw how does Obama bring people in over 5 years when his term ends in one, and immigration is strictly under the control of the executive branch?

    I am curious to see how your thought processes work here.

  • Jami

    You are out of your mind…..Cruz has never called for this. A total lie and distortion. Not all Americans can stomach the gay movement being pushed down our throats. If you are gay, that is your business, but don’t push your agenda into my way of life. Show some respect.

  • Larry

    Go back to what I said. Read the article before spouting off.

    Cruz had absolutely no problems with getting the support of someone who wants the government to commit mass murder of gays. He used the person as campaign support. He stood by while such hateful violent rhetoric was being said.

    The “gay agenda” by all appearances is the idea of not being singled out for discrimination under color of law. Not all Americans are comfortable with the idea of treating gays like human beings. You are one of them. I get that.

    If you are a conservative, you should really see who is supporting the candidates you might consider supporting. But then again, it appears this is simply a matter of someone saying something out loud which is largely accepted in more hushed tones.

  • Junebug

    To Fundamentalist Christians, Cruz may sound like their man. But I doubt that all are aware of the Dominionist movement that has promoted him. Read about “Seven Mountains Dominionism,” who, according to their websites, aim to have conservative Christians take control of every aspect of government, business and the culture in order to pave the way for the return of Christ. The “New Apostolic Reformation”, is another group closely tied to Seven Mountains Dominionism. For these groups Ted Cruz is the man to lead America. His father is one leader in this movement. Other groups such as the American Family Association are supportive. I am a Christian but not a theocrat.

  • His spiritual politics aside, there is still the very real question of Constitutional eligibility. Born in Canada, a Cuban father, renounced his allegiance to Canada a couple of years ago… At least Obama was born in USA. How can Cruz really meet Constitutional requirements? Supreme Court will have to weigh in on this one.

  • samuel johnston

    The political casualties of the Cruz ship are the fiscal conservatives, who otherwise might have a real chance of winning.

  • Rick

    Cruz’s mother is a native of Wilmington, Delaware, so she is and always has been a US citizen. At the time of the senator’s birth the family lived in Canada for work purposes, and his mother lived there as a US citizen. This is no different from anyone else who has at least one parent who is a US citizen and born outside of the US. Because his mother was a US citizen at the time of his birth, he is a US citizen. That is how it works. The Supreme Court will not have to rule on anything because there is nothing to rule on, just like Obama. His mother, a native of Wichita, Kansas, was also an American citizen even though his father was not. Of course, this is moot point for Obama because he was born in Hawaii. Cruz has many problems as a candidate. His citizenship is not one of them, and we should not get sidelined by it.

  • Jack

    Mark Silk, you missed one thing:

    Cruz said “evangelical.” He did not say “white evangelical.”

    You read “white evangelical” into “evangelical.”

    Perhaps that’s wishful thinking on your part. The day that Cruz or any other Republican starts attracting non-white evangelical support in any significant numbers is the day your party’s goose is cooked.

  • Jack

    Actually, it’s not clear at all what Cruz’s main message is, other than “constitutional conservatism.” Even when he talks about the social issues like abortion or gay marriage, he seems to be making federalist or constitutional arguments above and beyond moralistic ones. In other words, his argument would be theoretically acceptable not just to pro-lifers, but to pro-choice, pro-gay marriage libertarians who are nonetheless against the Supreme Court rulings on those matters, because they believe as a matter of principle that these are issues for the states to decide.

  • Jack

    Princeton AB, Harvard Law JD, best student Dershowitz ever had, world-class debater:

    Some “circus clown.”

  • Jack

    I am a Christian and am as opposed to Dominion theology as you are. It is a heresy that has been condemned by nearly every denomination, communion, and movement within Christendom,Catholic and Protestant.

    The problem, though, is that people who should know better, are accusing every Christian with a right or center-right political view of being a Dominionist. That’s either ignorant or dishonest.

    A Dominionist is someone who literally wants America governed directly by Biblical law as a governmental unit. Theologically speaking, it contradicts the Old Testament teaching that God made a covenant of Law at Sinai with the Jewish people alone via the Torah, and the New Testament teaching which takes it a step farther by saying that we are under grace and not law.

    For those who are theologically inclined, I’m not saying the dispensationalists are right and the covenant people wrong…..rather, what I’m saying is something upon which both will agree.

  • Jack

    Nonsense as usual, Larry. There is a gargantuan difference between standing for the basic human rights of gays which have been trampled upon for too long, and the Stalinist assertion that small business people should be jailed or driven out of business for obeying their conscience which prohibits them on religious grounds from delivering a good or service pertaining specifically to a gay wedding — which is the result of a sudden and historically unprecedented redefinition of humanity’s bedrock institution.

    The first reflects the normal, progressive nature of a liberal democracy — the second reflects an Orwellian turning of the tables, in which words carrying millions of years of settled meaning change definition overnight, and woe be unto those who don’t snap to attention immediately to the new dispensation.

    To conflate one with the other is either intellectually dishonest or

  • Jack

    ….woefully naïve.

  • Jack

    The old “guilt-by-association” game, courtesy of….who else?…..Larry.

    Based on that ugly and repulsive little game, and given a lifetime of certain associations, Barack Obama must be a committed Marxist and American-hating renegade.

    I don’t believe that at all, because I don’t believe in its premise — ie in guilt by association. I believe that politicians, from Cruz to Obama, inhabit strange worlds that require them to rub shoulders with a fair amount of oddballs and fringe characters. It has always been that way for politicians in both parties.

  • Jack

    It’s funny and quaint how many white liberals — and white liberal writers — seem to think that all Christians, especially evangelical Christians, are white people.

    I suppose their greatest nightmare is the day the wall between black and white churches comes crashing down.

    Yikes! Time to move to Sweden.

  • larry

    Having an education is no protection from being foolish nor creates an assumption of rational belief or knowledge outside one’s skillset. What it means is one is well equipped to defend one’s views in public.

    Plenty of clowns have ivy league educations.

  • Jack, you are a waste of bandwidth. Someone moaning about the expansion of civil liberties is stumping for discrimination. Your idea of “conscience” is orwellian garbage. People who want to discriminate in open commerce deserve legal sanction. Its a harm to the customer and an harm to the public.

    Eff them and their hateful law breaking supporters. They deserve no sympathy. One wants to act badly but expect no consequences for doing so.

    It is in your “conscience’ to treat people like crap and pretend it should be given color of law. Immoral, malicious behavior pretending to be personal integrity and moral strength.

    Btw nobody has to care whether there is no tradition of gay marriage. Your “definition” argument is nonsense to avoid the fact you have no rational and secular arguments to support gay marriage bans. So it is being redefined under the law? Why not? It is begging a question, not giving a reason. There is nothing honest in your reaction here.

  • You mean to tell me people do not want an association with their political supporters? Do you understand how politicians campaign? Obviously not.

    One always is accountable to the people footing the bills. To a politician, that means the people sending them money. Cruz and two others don’t mind taking money from a guy who wants gays executed. That is an association, those candidates chose to make openly. They want the votes of those likely to agree with such sentiments.

    Cruz doesn’t mind the association because those most critical to that speaker won’t vote Republican anyway.

  • samuel johnston

    @Jack,
    “The day that Cruz or any other Republican starts attracting non-white evangelical support in any significant numbers is the day your party’s goose is cooked.”
    You may be under the delusion that the political landscape is about ideas. I may argue with folks like you about ideas, but as we are both white folks, I doubt we can reach black voters, no matter what we say, cause it ain’t about ideas. It is about PERCEIVED interests, and voter blocks, and organizations.

  • larry

    Who are you kidding here? Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, is a major figure in the Dominionist movement. Ted Cruz has done nothing to distance himself from this political ideology. In most cases he has accepted their ideas and espouses them in a subtle “dogwhistle” method. He has openly embraced that crowd.

    Dominionism is the political ideology of Christian fundamentalists in general. It is demonstrated with constant attacks on secular government, attacks on the free exercise of religion for all faiths (not just one’s own) and frequent demands that Christian faith entitles one to privileges under the law over others.

  • Jack

    Sorry, Larry, but “circus clowns” are not particularly noted for being “well equipped to defend [their] views in public.”

  • Jack

    Larry, it’s pretty amazing that you’ve probably spent the last 80 years or so living in America yet understand so little about the First Amendment. You and Comrade Max sound like you both got off the boat just last night. You’d both make a good Saturday Night Live routine.

    I guess the Bill of Rights and you just don’t mix. Maybe if you stop using it to blow your nose or check your motor oil and just start reading it, including the historical context, you will break free of your ignorance.

    Simply put, you can’t bulldoze religious freedom simply because you desire a particular political outcome on a pet issue. That’s not how constitutional democracy works. Maybe in LarryLand it does, but LarryLand is make-believe. In the real world, you have to clear a very high hurdle to get around the First Amendment and its components.

  • Jack

    What a silly reply…..Based on that logic, such that it is, what does it say about Barack Obama’s 20-year association with Rev. Wright and his “g-d-mn America” rants, and his screamingly Marxist liberation theology coupled by his crude and vile appeals to racism?

    Does that make Barack Obama a disciple of that twisted pup?

    No…..I don’t believe Obama was a real discipline of Wright. But based on your logic, you apparently do.

    I just think Obama deemed it politically expedient to be there, because Wright had clout in the community in spite of his nonsensical beliefs.

    The same is true of any politician. At some point, they associate with bizarre people if those people have money and/or networks for use.

  • Jack

    I have no idea what’s in Raphael Cruz’s head. I do know that virtually every Christian denomination, communion, or movement on the planet has deemed Dominionism a heresy. When it became big in the 1990s, mostly in Reformed Christian circles, Catholics and Protestants, including evangelical Protestants, couldn’t wait to step up to the plate and condemn it. Hal Lindsay, ever the drama king, even wrote a book saying it could lead to a second Holocaust.

    So you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Jack

    Ah, the old debate over whether ideas or the environment influence people and the course of things.

    The short answer is it’s both.

  • Paul

    The dominionists don’t advocate for the majority of Christian Fundamentalists, but only those who unquestioningly accept their radical version, just how the Taliban and ISIS only accept those Muslims who accept their radical views, and not the vast majority of Muslims who do not. The most extreme Taliban and Dominionists (aka theonomists or “Christian” reconstructionists) seem to be equally intolerant and murderous..