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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cruz Wins Values Voter Straw Poll, But Can His Plan Get Him Elected?

The Horse Sense Blog compares the nonsense in today's news with good ol' fashioned horse sense.

Here's the Nonsense:  Ted Cruz has the most appeal to people of faith and that will win for him in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Here's the Horse Sense:  Ted's an amazing guy, but does his plan have a flaw that could hold him back from success?

This weekend was the Values Voter Summit.  It attracts voters who put their values high on their list of priorities for the candidates they support.  They had a straw poll taken of about 1000 people and Ted Cruz won with a whopping 35% of the vote.  His nearest competitor was Ben Carson at 18%.  But does this win really say anything for Cruz and his chance of winning his 2016 election bid?  Probably not.

For the 3rd year in a row Ted Cruz won the Values Voter Summit straw poll.  While that's a nice record and a good group for him to have on his side, the win doesn't really say much for his 2016 bid for the presidency.  Values Voters would be people of conviction and values, many claiming they are people of faith.  And one of the key planks of Cruz's plan to try to win the GOP nomination is to court these people.  But it may be a mistaken concept.

In 2012 millions of voters stayed home and didn't vote.  They were fed up.  And for the most part, the pundits and media believed (and still do) that they were mostly evangelical Christians who didn't vote because they refused to vote for a candidate who was a Mormon.  

Let's take a minute here to clearly understand what that claim entails.  Mormons claim to be Christian, and in the sense that most Americans claim to be Christian they would be part of that cultural Christianity that includes most Americans.  Americans on the whole are cultural Christians, not theological Christians. 

 By evangelical definition, most Americans aren't truly Christian because they don't hold to and live by orthodox Christian theology.  To evangelicals, if your theology doesn't fit the orthodox definition of Christianity, then you are not a Christian.  

Mormon doctrine is not considered orthodox Christian doctrine.  Because of that belief by evangelicals, some were not willing to vote for Mitt Romney, although those who fall into that category seem to have been far fewer in number than the media led people to believe.  Most evangelicals, like any other group in America, were looking to elect a president, not a pastor, and to them voting for a Mormon was no different than voting for anyone else who wasn't an evangelical Christian.  They were not making religion a litmus test to determine who they would vote for.

What was far less focused on in 2012, and yet seems to have been a much bigger portion of those who didn't vote, was a high number of Ron Paul supporters.  They were upset that he didn't get the nomination and chose not to vote as a protest.  Many of those same people support Ron Paul's son, Rand, in the 2016 race.  And my guess is that in 2016 there's a fair chance that they won't vote again if Rand Paul doesn't get the nomination (something that appears to have less and less chance of happening as Rand implodes in his own campaign).

But the few million people who stayed home, whether evangelicals or Ron Paul supporters, or some of both, are not the key to winning in 2016.  Obama and the Democrats are working at a feverish pace to get the illegals in America to legal status so they can vote.  That will increase the size of the Democrat voting base far more than the votes lost by Republicans in 2012 when some evangelicals and Ron Paul supporters didn't vote.  

So, the key to winning for Republicans has got to be to get enough voters out to offset the actions of both the Democrats and the Rand Paul supporters who will throw a tantrum again and not vote.

Now, all that said, Ted Cruz is a favorite candidate of the conservative base.  He certainly is the most solidly conservative candidate running.  And Ted has set himself up so that he's attractive to supporters of candidates like Rand Paul and Donald Trump.  When and if either of those candidates drop out of the race, Cruz hopes to be the candidate their supporters move to.  

But at the core of Cruz's plan is the idea that he, as an evangelical Christian himself, will have the most appeal to evangelicals.  He takes a strong stand for religious liberty, which he believes is at the cornerstone of rights for Americans (and he's right about that).  He believes he can rally people to support him over that issue.

It is believed that he has so much appeal that it will attract two types of voters that he believes will give him the edge to win.  Those two types are the evangelicals who stayed home in 2012 and many of 20+ million evangelicals who never vote and aren't even registered to vote.

Cruz is hoping to enlighten and inspire the evangelicals who don't vote to change their ways, register, and head to the polls to save religious freedom.  He knows that if the majority of those 20+ million evangelicals register they would mostly register as Republicans and the sheer number of them would offset anything the Democrats are doing trying to get illegals to a legal status where they could vote.

It sounds like a pretty good plan... if he can do it.  

But that's where the question comes in.  Are enough Americans concerned about the threat to religious freedom to actually get out and do something about it?  Do they understand the impact that losing religious freedom really is to their lives, their future, and the future of their families?

Ted Cruz is a brilliant guy who can mop the floor with anyone in a legitimate debate.  (Please don't call the nonsense we've seen on Fox and CNN legitimate debates.  While CNN's was certainly much better than Fox's, both were not really debates and, as a result, the voting public is the one who lost.)  I think very highly of Ted Cruz and think he has a lot to offer our nation as a public servant. 

But getting people who've never voted to go out and register and then follow through to vote is a major task.  The Democrats are somewhat successful at it because they offer freebies that attract people.  After all, people love Santa Claus.  

That's not what conservative Republicans do, so people who aren't politically involved need other motivation to get involved.  

Evangelicals that don't vote, unlike other voters, don't get involved because they don't see the things of this world as important compared to their future in heaven.  They don't "waste" their time getting involved now because it doesn't matter to them.  Their focus is not on today or even this life.  Their focus is on where they're going to spend forever.

Now, some of you may think that's crazy, but whether you think that or not doesn't change their views.  And getting someone to change from that mindset to one that also sees the importance of being involved in the political process is, at best, extremely difficult. 

Yet without their involvement the chances of Cruz, or any other candidate who thinks they can rely on the evangelicals to turn out to vote for them, is questionable.

Could this be the mountain that Ted Cruz can't successfully climb?

While Cruz is somewhat known as a fighter and principled person, that doesn't mean he can inspire the evangelicals to action.  Those who aren't registered to vote are not angry about the threat to religious liberty like politically active Christians are (evangelical and otherwise).  

The thing that gets people motivated to take action more than anything else is anger.  Anger is an amazing motivator.  When someone is angry they are like a freight train that can't be stopped.  

Cruz to a minor extent and Donald Trump and Ben Carson to a much greater extent have tapped into the anger of the American electorate.  Trump certainly more than all of the others combined.  And part of the reason that Cruz hasn't tapped into it is that the uninvolved, unregistered evangelicals he's after are not, in many cases, angry.  They are content to wait upon the teachings in the Bible that promise them that one day Jesus will return and deal with the mess this world is in.  

So, the question for Cruz is how do you get those people angry enough to take action?

Stop and think about it.  Values aren't going to drive people to the polls in anywhere near the numbers that anger is.  The evangelicals certainly have the values that support religious freedom.  But if these people haven't been involved up to now, why would they suddenly feel their values are driving them to vote now? 

On the other hand, people who are really angry will take action when they usually wouldn't.  People who know me know that I don't get angry very easily.  I used to, but not any more.  It takes a lot for me to get angry, but when I do you better get out of my way.  

I think most people are that way.  When they get angry they are like a freight train racing down the tracks and nothing will stop them.  Their emotions are running high and they aren't stopping for anything.

Those are the people who are more likely to get involved and vote.  

And that's the difference between the unregistered evangelicals that Ted Cruz is trying to rally to get involved and the people who are actually getting involved.

That's where candidates like Donald Trump and to some degree Ben Carson have had more success than Ted Cruz.  Trump and Carson have tapped into the anger of the people.  The majority of angry people see Donald Trump as the catalyst for change.  And so that's who they line up behind.  

No other candidate is drawing the huge numbers from unlikely groups.  25% of blacks surveyed support Trump because they're tired of being deceived by the Democrat Party.  20% of Democrats have said they support Trump because they don't like where their party has gone.  Citizens who have never voted are registering to vote for Trump.  

I remember reading of one 92 year old woman in Tennessee who has never registered or voted in her life is now registered because she is supporting Trump because she doesn't like what America has become.  92 years old!  After all those years you'd think it would be impossible to get her involved, but Trump has done it.  

In another story young people just old enough to vote are paying money to hear Trump speak and standing in long waiting lines when they'd usually be spending their summer doing other things.  But they see in Trump something that is resonating with their anger.  They are angry that their future is questionable at best, but Trump gives them hope that America can be great again and give them opportunity.  Anger drives people more than anything else.

What is happening with Trump is not happening with any other candidate on similar levels.  He's attracting people from across the aisle, from groups that traditionally are controlled by Democrats, and people who aren't even registered to vote BECAUSE THEY ARE ANGRY!

It's the anger candidates must tap into if they are to succeed and America is to be saved from the collapse that is befalling us.  And if Cruz is going to tap into those unregistered evangelicals, which is critical for him to succeed, then he has to find a way to inspire them to anger about what is happening.  If they don't listen to him and just want to sit back and wait for God, he will have no chance at the nomination.  

At this point I'm sure some people are saying, "But Trump didn't do well in the Values Voter Summit straw poll!"  Don't think that people of faith won't support Trump.  Sure, he may not have done well in the Values Voters Summit straw poll, but on the other hand, well-known Christian Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson just backed Trump at the Oklahoma State Fair (you can read about it here), so people of faith are not disregarding candidates based on their faith.

Trump may not attract many of the people from the Values Voter Summit, but the majority of Americans aren't those people.  Trump referred to Marco Rubio as a clown at the Summit and it's reported he received boos from the crowd.  Maybe he deserved it, but Trump fights like a Democrat and that's why they can't handle him.  

And I'm not so sure that the 13% of the people at the Summit who voted for Rubio in their straw poll have any clue anyway.  Trump is right that Rubio is a kid.  He's a young, immature establishment Republican and if those who voted for him at that Summit can't see that, then they need to do more homework before they should be voting in November 2016.  (Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch has just written a very good piece you can read here about Rubio.)  Rubio's no conservative and has been dishonest with voters so I don't know why someone who's been deceptive is even being considered at a summit named the Values Voter Summit.  

Cruz is an excellent person to serve our nation, but he is no longer my first choice for 2016.  I am not convinced he is electable for a host of reasons.  But this isn't about my reasons why I think that.  It's about the underlying motive that will drive people to the polls.  And I don't think appealing to the values of a nation whose majority populace are narcissistic and immoral is a winning plan.  

The candidate who taps best into the anger that Americans have is the one who will drive them to the polls.  When people are angry they take more action than any other time.  Happiness, duty, or anything else won't drive a person like anger does.  The real question for Ted Cruz is whether he can inspire that kind of anger within the unregistered evangelicals.  Without it can he really win?