Here's the Horse Sense: Cruz may have won 3 states on Super Tuesday, but it's probably too little too late for him to be able to win.
Ted Cruz's fans are celebrating his 3 Super Tuesday wins, but don't realize that it doesn't provide a path to the nomination for him. Cruz's planned path to victory has faltered at virtually every turn, and after last night's results, he's not in a good position.
Cruz's plan all along has been based primarily on the idea that millions of evangelical Christians don't get involved in politics and aren't even registered to vote. The thought was that he would rally these people, along with already politically active evangelicals and very conservative voters, and this would bring him the victory he needs to win the nomination and general election.
There are a number of problems with this plan. The first of which is that evangelicals who are not politically engaged usually aren't involved because they really don't care about politics. Many of them believe that we live in the time predicted in the Bible to be the end times. They believe that Jesus will one day, probably fairly soon, return to Earth at which point the world's political system won't matter because Jesus will rule and not man. So, they see political involvement as a futile endeavor and don't participate or, in many cases, even register to vote.
For Cruz to think he can motivate those people to action when no one in history has ever gotten them involved takes either a huge ego or a view that is based on something that is faulty. While there's no doubt that Cruz has a huge ego (I've never met a politician who didn't), the real reason is that Cruz holds to faulty logic.
Cruz believes in dominion theology. It is a theology that is unbiblical, but many people have fallen for it. Quite simply, it teaches that Christians will take over the world and convert all people to be Christian before Jesus will return. Now, my point here is not to debate this issue, but suffice it to say that it is rejected by all good Bible scholars and has been embraced by a faction of so-called evangelical Christians today. I say "so-called" because they deny core tenets of the Christian faith but have somehow worked themselves into being accepted as evangelical Christians.
This is important because Ted Cruz, through the teaching of his father, Rafael, believes that he is anointed by God to be a king to rule on Earth. That belief has driven him to believe that he can motivate all the evangelical Christians in America (even the vast majority, which don't embrace dominion theology) to get politically involved and support his candidacy.
This is a very narrow group in America. Even though many people call themselves evangelical Christians, it does not follow that they will all embrace Ted's views and register to vote and elect him. That has already been proven in the primary races we've seen so far.
Yes, Ted took Iowa, but it is important to remember that Iowa radio host Steve Deace claims to be an evangelical and has been pushing for a Cruz presidency for some time. Deace is considered the kingmaker when it comes to the Iowa caucuses (60% in Iowa claim to be evangelical). He is solely responsible for Mike Huckabee's success there in 2008. His reach beyond Iowa isn't very significant.
But Ted's plan was to essentially ignore New Hampshire, where only 27% claim to be evangelical, and win South Carolina big, which would supposedly thrust him into the lead for Super Tuesday (72% claim to be evangelical in South Carolina). And since many states in Super Tuesday are core Bible belt states, he believed he would essentially take everything there and then be unstoppable for the nomination.
When Cruz didn't win one delegate in South Carolina, his campaign was immediately in trouble. He's tried to paint a picture that everything is fine, but the fact is he's been in serious trouble since then.
Cruz thought he had quite the opportunity with a large evangelical populace in the Super Tuesday states that would give him a huge win in those states. But once again, the evangelicals didn't rally behind him and, as a result, he lost most of those states. Here's a list of the Super Tuesday states and the percentage of evangelicals in each one (note that states in red are considered strong Bible belt states and Cruz only won 2 of those, one of which was his home state of Texas):
(Colorado is a Super Tuesday state but didn't award any delegates so it has been left out)
And here's a list of the states following Super Tuesday and the percentage of evangelicals in each of them:
Washington DC 28%
North Carolina 64%
North Dakota 46%
New York 15%
Rhode Island 16%
West Virginia 79%
New Jersey 13%
South Dakota 56%
New Mexico 40%
While there are a few states with significant evangelical population, the vast majority are not. And given Cruz's failure to rally evangelicals very well elsewhere, there's little chance they will come to his aid in any of these states, too.
Cruz's campaign does rely on a couple of other things beyond just the evangelicals. They were hoping to rally the voters who felt disenfranchised from previous elections, but have not had a lot of luck there either.
And he believed that Donald Trump's followers would rally behind him as Donald faded and he moved forward after South Carolina. Just like the GOPe (GOP establishment), it doesn't appear that Ted really believed that Trump would last in the campaign and his early efforts to be friendly towards Trump was mostly an effort to keep the door open for Trump's followers to move to him when Trump would bow out of the race.
But this has failed because Trump has stayed in the race. And, if he were to drop out of the race (which is highly unlikely), a vast number of Trump's followers would not naturally go to Cruz. Cruz has appealed to a limited number of evangelicals and very conservative ideologues. But there's not many outside those two categories that support him.
Trump draws from a much broader demographic than Cruz. The Trump coalition includes:
- Every segment of the Republican electorate
- Large numbers of Independents
- Many Democrats (surveys show that 20% of Democrats support Trump, a good example of which is the 20,000 Democrats in Massachusetts that left the party and registered as either Independents or Republicans to support Trump)
- And a significant numbers of people who have never voted or haven't voted in 10+ years (a huge portion of those would never support Cruz and therefore cannot be wooed away by him)
The strong evangelical claims by Cruz are also a big turnoff to many who are not evangelical. And since he can't close the deal with evangelicals, who most would think are the likeliest to support him, it's highly doubtful he's going to see a big increase in other demographics to support his campaign.
In order to attract enough voters to win the presidency, a candidate has to appeal to a variety of voters across the nation, not just a couple small demographic groups. Being to the right of center is the winning formula to build a large coalition, as long as you realize that only catering to those who are far right ideologues and those of strict like-minded religious adherence, limits the ability to bring in enough people to win. That is Ted Cruz's problem and, like it or not, why he cannot win the nomination, let alone the general election.