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Ted Cruz Faces A Test In Texas

Ted Cruz Flag Background

While Marco Rubio faces a threat in his home state primary on March 15th, Ted Cruz has a more immediate concern coming in just a few days, namely the question of whether he can hold on and win his own home state of Texas on Super Tuesday:

HOUSTON — Senator Ted Cruz cannot stop talking about the Alamo.

He is always eager to twang, delivering his best stump-speech impression of a West Texas farmer. He boasted recently that he knew how to “shoot me a bird.”

“I cannot wait to get home,” he told voters in Nevada, unsubtly, after a disappointing third-place finish in the caucuses there, “to the great state of Texas.”

Since announcing his bid nearly a year ago, Mr. Cruz has placed next week’s so-called Super Tuesday voting contests at the center of his plans: He would sweep through the heavily evangelical Southern primaries, advisers said, and run up the margin in his delegate-rich home state.

But as Donald J. Trump threatens to steamroll through the primary season, muscling Mr. Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida aside entering Thursday’s debate, there has been a reckoning deep in the heart of Cruz campaign headquarters: Texas could, for all practical purposes, be Mr. Cruz’s last stand.

On Wednesday, amid the machinery of a pipe and weld fittings manufacturing plant in Houston, Mr. Cruz reveled in a reception befitting a native son. Before a rollicking crowd that often mouthed his punch lines, Mr. Cruz received the endorsement of the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, his former boss.

Mr. Cruz reminded Texans that they were “not a people who give away our freedom quietly.” He recalled a slogan from the Texas Revolution (“Come and take it!”) and read from his iPhone a letter by the mission’s commander, William B. Travis, who died at the Battle of the Alamo.

“I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country,” Mr. Cruz recited. “Victory or death.”

He added, “Like the Alamo in 1836, America is besieged.”

A Monmouth University poll released on Thursday showed Mr. Cruz in the lead with 38 percent support among likely Republican primary voters, outpacing Mr. Trump (23 percent) and Mr. Rubio (21 percent). Other polls have suggested the race is tighter.

Candidates who had ties to the state, like Jeb Bush and Rick Perry, have faded. Mr. Perry, the former governor, endorsed Mr. Cruz.

But the state’s delegate breakdown is proportional, and somewhat complicated, unless a candidate wins in a blowout. Of the 155 delegates, 108 are allocated across 36 congressional districts. If a candidate clears 50 percent in a district, he wins all three delegates for the district. Otherwise, a district winner receives two delegates and the runner-up gets one.

Separately, 44 statewide delegates are up for grabs. They are awarded in their entirety if a candidate wins more than half the vote over all. But candidates who clear 20 percent of the vote are eligible for delegates, meaning that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Rubio could eat into the total. (The remaining three delegates are unelected party leaders.)

While Mr. Trump is Mr. Cruz’s chief threat, Mr. Rubio has made clear that he intends to compete, scheduling rallies this week in Houston and Dallas — the types of urban areas, in addition to Austin, where he is seen as more viable.

Mr. Cruz will be relying heavily on suburban and exurban areas, pollsters say, hoping to excel in regions with many large conservative churches. He spoke Wednesday night at a dinner for Republicans in Harris County, the largest county in the state, an event that another Republican rival, Ben Carson, also attended.

Strategists see Mr. Trump as a possible favorite in rural areas and parts of southeast Texas with heavy blue-collar populations. And given the delegate math, he could walk off with a sizable chunk even in defeat.

Though Mr. Cruz remains broadly popular in the state, there are some who view him warily, noting that figures like Mr. Perry and former President George W. Bush were superior in personifying Texas folksiness.

“He doesn’t come across like Rick Perry does,” said Jerry Patterson, a former Texas land commissioner who is supporting Mr. Rubio. “Rick Perry and Jerry Patterson went to Texas Agricultural and Mechanical. Ted went to Harvard.”

Mr. Patterson added that he did not doubt Mr. Cruz’s Texas bona fides — “He wears boots and he likes guns. We’re pretty ecumenical about that,” he said — but worried that the senator appeared “too clever by half” as a campaigner.

While the Monmouth University poll cited above suggests that Cruz has a comfortable lead in the Lone Star State, and may have a sufficient lead to claim the vast majority of the delegates the state will have at stake on Tuesday, there are other indications that the race may be tighter than that poll indicates. An Emerson College poll taken around the same time as the Monmouth poll puts Cruz’s lead at only one point over Trump, 29% for Cruz and 28% for Trump with Rubio in third at 25% with Kasich and Carson both under 10%. Another poll from Dallas television station KTVT puts Cruz at 33%, eight points ahead of the second place Trump who stands at 25%, followed by Rubio at 15% and Kasich and Carson again under 10%. Finally, a recent Survey USA poll has Cruz and Trump tied at 32% followed by Rubio at 17%. On the other hand, two recent polls from the Austin American-Statesman and the University of Houston give Cruz the same double digit lead that that the Monmouth poll does. All of this leaves Cruz with an average of 34%, giving him a 7.2 point lead over Trump in the RealClearPolitics average over Trump (26.8%), followed by Rubio 18.2%.

In many respects, Ted Cruz has as much on the line in Texas as Marco Rubio does in Florida. If he were to somehow lose the state completely, which seems unlikely given the polls, or under perform significantly, then it would be a sign of weakness in his campaign that may cause many of his supporters to question whether or not its time to jump ship if only to make one last effort to fight off what could otherwise become an inevitable Trump victory in the nomination fight. Additionally, much like Rubio, Cruz now finds himself in a position where, at least according to the polls, there seem to be very few if any Super Tuesday states where he’s likely to score a clear win, thus making Texas even more important. Finally, as I said with regard to Rubio, a candidate who can’t win his home state decisively is going to have a hard time making the case that he’s the candidate to carry the battle forward, whether its against Trump for the nomination or against Hillary Clinton in the General Election.

In the end, I expect that Cruz will “win” the Texas primary in the sense that he’ll get the most votes, as was the case with the Texas fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama eight years ago, though, the real question will become how the delegates get divided up. If Trump finishes a close enough second and does well in enough Congressional Districts, he could walk away with a fairly decent delegate haul all his own. That may not be enough to kill off Cruz’s campaign, but if it’s combined with Trump sweeping, or nearly sweeping, the other Super Tuesday states then Cruz is going to find himself a very distant second at best behind Trump headed into the portion of the race where the states become winner-take-all, which includes states where Trump likely stands to do better than Cruz overall. Given all of this, tonight’s debate in Houston is perhaps the most important one to date since its the last chance Cruz and Rubio have to score any significant points against Trump headed into the most important part of the race for the Republican nomination.

So, stay tuned.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Like I wrote in the other thread, voters in Texas can vote in either primary. Early voting is in its second week. Here in San Antonio/Bexar County, voting has been equally split between Ds and Rs. There are some down ballot races that are driving turnout for both Rs and Ds depending on the parts of the city you live. I voted R this time because of those local Republican races between Sane and Not-Sane candidates. For record, I voted Kasich (because he is not Cruz or Trump). I thought of voting for Trump because he would be best for Clinton in the fall but I’m not that devious.

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  2. DFrancis says:

    TRUMP WILL END THE THEFT OF JOBS OWING TO THE ILLEGAL ALIEN INVASION THAT IS COSTING US TAXPAYERS ABOVE A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY AND GROWING.

    LET SUPER TUESDAY ELECTORATE ESCAPE FROM THE GOP ESTABLISHMENT AND THE SOCIALIST AGENDA, TO A NEW WORLD OF ECONOMIC RESURGENCE AND BE A WINNER ONCE AGAIN WITH DONALD TRUMP. THE FIRST ISSUE ON HIS LIST OF THINGS TO DO IS END OBAMA’S OPEN BORDER POLICIES. TRUMP WILL BUILD THE 1000 MILE SOARING WALL AND REVISE MANDATORY E-VERIFY AND A DIGITAL TRACKING SYSTEM AT ALL PORTS OF ENTRY/EXIT. BUSINESSES WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO HIRE FOREIGN NATIONALS AND WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE FAILED INTENTIONALLY TO STOP THE INCESSANT FLOW AND CREATE A ROUTE FOR CHEAP LABOR AND FOR DEMOCRATS HUGE VOTING BLOCKS, IN BLUE STATES THAT HAVE NO PROCEDURE FROM NON-CITIZENS VOTING.

    WITHOUT DOUBT THERE IS COLLUSION BETWEEN THE PARTIES TO KEEP THE SAME OLD REGIMES GOING, BUT POLITICIANS FOR ONCE HAVE COME UP AGAINST A BRICK WALL WITH THE LOSE OF JEB BUSH? FROM THE HIERARCHY REPUBLICANS THAT WHEN THEY HAD A CHANCE TO STOP OBAMAS IMPERIAL REIGN, THE FUNDED EVERYTHING IN THE OMNIBUS BUDGE THAT THE PRESENT KING BARACK OBAMA WANTED IN OVER A MONTH AGO. WITH BUSH DROPPING OUT OF THE RACE, WHERE ARE THE SUPER PAC’s GOING TO SPEND THEIR MILLIONS, WHICH OVAL OFFICE HOPEFUL WILL BE THEIR FAVORABLE TARGET? IT CERTAINLY WILL NOT BE CONVEYED TO DONALD TRUMP, AS THEY CANNOT BUY HIM.

    Boy the sea of rough politics is getting nasty out there. The Hard core GOP establishment, has dragged Mitt Romney back in the race trying to sell to the American public that Donald Trump has a ‘Bombshell’ in his old tax returns. What’s next that Donald Trump is a North Korean spy? it’s very humorous really as the hierarchy at the top of the pecking order is losing–and losing big. I have expletive for this, but I certainly would get suppressed. With Gov Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton you will live in the same slime of a dying economic uncertainty.

    Senator Cruz has taken no action to reduce the rewarding of illegal immigration by giving citizenship to anchor babies. Voted in favor of granting President Authority to expand immigration levels without Congress’ consent via Trade Promotion Authority in 2015 Sen. Cruz voted in favor of final passage of Trade Promotion Authority bill, H.R. 1314.

    Senator Rubio has taken no action to reduce the rewarding of illegal immigration by giving citizenship to anchor babies. Rubio leans toward higher immigration, population growth, and foreign labor. Voted in favor of granting President Authority to expand immigration levels without Congress’ consent via Trade Promotion Authority in 2015 Sen. Rubio voted in favor of final passage of Trade Promotion Authority bill, H.R. 1314.

    If Trump becomes nominee for the Oval Office, every natural born citizens; naturalized or a lawful immigrants needs to join this partnership. America is a nation of laws and not the overreaching executive orders of King Obama. In a Trump administration every person, whether Black, White, Latino, Hispanic, Asian, and any of the minorities who are of legal status are shown as equal, just as the thousands of hires in Donald Trumps Real Estate Empire.

    The popular vote is growing tremendously for a President Trump, showing that every class of American is looking upon this solid businessman as a savior for our economic downturn under this present administration. The attacks ads blasting Donald Trump are flowing in with vicious effect, but much of it is not true or that Trumps words taken out of context. Carl Icahn, prior CEO of Chrysler and now retired and will be an advisor to Trump, with many personages in the business part of his Presidency, bringing economic resurgence to the United States and ending the failure of the Political Hacks. The American people have had no redress, remaining unnoticed and are being told by the GOP Syndicate and the Democratic that we are on the road to recovery. The acute Socialist political Party has the echo’s of Soviet life, where you live in a collective where the government control YOU and your family. And Yes! The profiteers, the wealthy conglomerates are doing well, but that is expected when they are bring there products into America without any resistance. But Trump has other ideas, that unless they play by the rules, they will pay a tariff of 37 percent.

    More people are elated that Trump intends to the raise a 1000 mile wall, severing us from the criminal drug cartels, killing our children, and restraining the illegal alien invasion and very evident National Security. Trump proposes in building an army along with the giant wall of US Border Agents to enforce from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas. He intends to send in the National Guard to clear out the whole areas, where just one or two sheriffs try to safeguard huge sectors of open desert and farmland that narcotics are daily sent with armed individuals, groups of illegal aliens tearing up fencing, breaking into homes and threatening landowners. Trumps new law will provide a tougher enforcement tools that will be Mandatory E-Verify and a system to track ‘Overstays’ who ignore an expired visa. These duties will be employed of a far larger force of USICE officers who will raid businesses using foreign nationals stealing jobs from American and permanent residents.

    A concern with any type of election is electoral fraud, which includes ballot stuffing, bribery, registering false voters, bogus absentee ballots, voter intimidation, and multiple votes by one person, residing in one county and voting in the county or neighboring state; interference with vote counting. Such illegal activity was the eventual investigation of the ‘ACORN’ organization that was registering non-citizens. With the huge influx of illegal aliens this could open doors to voter fraud in electoral precincts by relaxing registration laws, thus making it easier for more people to vote and increasing turnout and if illegal aliens had violated immigration laws once, a second time will be an easy tactic. The Left doesn’t seem to care, and have even urged perplexed illegal people to vote.

    This February has been one of the bad, months for American workers. First we saw the wholly gloomy Bureau of Labor Statistics report, which found that in January the long-struggling U.S. economy created only 155,000 jobs (That’s if you are willing to believe that number, when over 93 million citizens and lawful residents are in either poorly paid jobs, underemployed, in part time work or dropped looking for something altogether?

    Then, the Indianapolis Business Journal has reported that the manufacturing huge company ‘Carrier’ is motivated, over the next three years in relocating 1,400 jobs to Mexico. Carrier is the foremost air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration systems producer. In another correlated statement, northeast Indiana-based United Technologies Electronic Controls is also to remove move jobs to Mexico. By 2018, 700 jobs will materialize in Mexico. No need to speculate that net employment gains is dreary when U.S. manufacturing segment are moving overseas and has been stagnating for months and even years, finding a better opportunity in foreign countries with fewer regulations and cheap labor. Carrier and UTEC are units of the Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp., a Fortune 500 company with $65 billion in annual revenue. Watch the heated feedback from stunned Carrier employees at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3ttxGMQOrY

    There is an accumulation of appalling news coming from the depressed IT section of industry. Hertz announced that it would soon lay off 230 workers at its Oklahoma City technology center. A Hertz representative said that nationwide the total lost IT jobs will “…be larger than 230….” Labor Condition Applications for prospective H-1B visa holders have been traced back to the Hertz Oklahoma City address, a strong signal that more foreign workers whisked through suspicious Visa processing will take American jobs.

    All these situations is serious news for the job market, grave news with Ford manufacturing moving a large part of it manufacturing to Mexico, Ford said on last April it will spend $2.5 billion to build a new generation of fuel-efficient engines and transmissions in Chihuahua, Mexico, creating 3,800 jobs. The United Auto Workers union, in response, said putting jobs in Mexico rather than the United States will be a major issue at its upcoming U.S. labor talks with Ford, General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Then Nabisco also having no sense of loyalty to the US people, when Irene Rosenfeld, the head of Mondolez announced that instead of invest $130 million in refurbishing the plant in Chicago, where Oreos have been fondly produced for the past 100 years, she will instead move the jobs to a new factory in Salinas, Mexico. The result: a loss of 600 well-paying and community-sustaining jobs on the Southwest Side.

    Many American companies have quietly expanded over to Mexico — including well-known brands like Caterpillar, Chrysler, and Stanley-Black & Decker adding billions of dollars in investment and insisting to drive the economic integration that President Obama has allowed and not placing obstacles to stop this loss of US good paying jobs. Currently the United States has a deficit with our not so friendly neighbor of 500 billion dollars.

    Notwithstanding the mounting data that citizens/legal residents in blue collar and high-skilled jobs are persistently at risk of overseas outsourcing or foreign-born in-sourcing, many on the Capitol beltway continue to press for more workers, mostly through greatly higher H-1B visa caps.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I can hear the fat lady tuning up.

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  4. HIlarious says:

    @DFrancis:

    OK, this isn’t even good trolling.

    But what about Donald Trump’s club at Mar-a-Lago?

    Since 2010, nearly 300 United States residents have applied or been referred for jobs as waiters, waitresses, cooks and housekeepers there. But according to federal records, only 17 have been hired.

    In all but a handful of cases, Mar-a-Lago sought to fill the jobs with hundreds of foreign guest workers from Romania and other countries.

    In his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. Trump has stoked his crowds by promising to bring back jobs that have been snatched by illegal immigrants or outsourced by corporations, and voters worried about immigration have been his strongest backers.

    But he has also pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago since 2010, according to the United States Department of Labor, while hundreds of domestic applicants failed to get the same jobs.

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  5. grumpy realist says:

    @DFrancis: You are posting this in an article about Ted Cruz, you realize.

    If you want to convince us that the Trumpenproletariat isn’t a bunch of illiterate jerks, you’re doing an awful job.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DFrancis: Shorter DFrancis: “HELP!!! I CAN’T STOP!!!”

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    @DFrancis: tl;dr

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  8. C. Clavin says:

    @DFrancis:
    Wow…stop yelling.

    THE ILLEGAL ALIEN INVASION THAT IS COSTING US TAXPAYERS ABOVE A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY AND GROWING.

    Do you understand these people are not from another planet? They are not aliens.
    It’s obvious you spend a lot…a lot…of time reading wingnut sites.
    The truth of the matter is that a 2007 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office examined 29 reports on state and local costs published over 15 years and they concluded that that illegal immigrants impose a net cost to state and local governments but “that impact is most likely modest.”
    The other side of the coin is that if you deport 11 or 12 million people you will definitely cause economic disaster. A 2015 study by the American Action Forum, a conservative pro-immigration group, estimates the federal government would have to spend roughly $400 billion to $600 billion to deport 11.3 million undocumented immigrants and prevent future unlawful entry into the U.S. over a 20 year time period. Mass deportation will burden the economy, the report goes on. Removing all undocumented immigrants would cause the labor force to shrink by 6.4%. As a result, 20 years from now the economy would be nearly 6% or $1.6 trillion smaller than it would be if the immigrants are allowed to stay.
    Stop yelling…keep calm…and try to stop reading nonsense.

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  9. C. Clavin says:

    @DFrancis:

    not the overreaching executive orders of King Obama.

    So…This King Obama you speak of…is that the successor to King George…who wrote 20% more executive orders? (Obama 231 vs. Bush 291 vs King Ronnie who wrote 381 vs. King Richard Nixon who wrote 346 vs. FDR who wrote 3,721)

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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @DFrancis:

    And you guys wonder why we think you’re all a bunch of morons …

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  11. Mu says:

    Stop insulting morons

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  12. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Half of them sound like the fools who buy over-priced gold on Glenn Beck’s show, the other half sound like they’ve been into the hair salon chemicals a bit too much.

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  13. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but is there something in the water in Missouri?

    I think law schools, the ABA, and a heckova lot of lawyers are going to be on the other side of this.

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  14. HIlarious says:

    @grumpy realist: Not to mention the Missouri Bar Association.

    But it will never be voted on. He’ll have to settle for being a lobbyist/surveyor.

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  15. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @grumpy realist: I am forced to wonder if MO works similarly to Texas in that the legislators pensions are tied to the judicial pensions. It could be a way to try to create a smooth years-of-service pathway in order to boost their legislative pension calculations.

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  16. Pch101 says:

    “Like the Alamo in 1836, America is besieged.”

    Typical Canadian, always complaining about the United States.

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  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Pch101:

    Typical Canadian, always complaining about the United States.

    The Alamo? Wasn’t that some foreign wannabe fort?

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  18. PogueMahone says:

    @DrDaveT: Close. It was a Catholic Mission. Then it became a fort. Church and State… one and the same here in Texas

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  19. J-Dub says:
  20. grumpy realist says:

    Looking at that picture, who would you say had the more punchable face–Ted Cruz or Martin Shkreli?

    Decisions, decisions….

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  21. al-Ameda says:

    @DFrancis:
    Will Trump put an end to ALL CAPS posting that originates from someone’s basement?

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