He has more cash than any other Republican candidate. He is organized in every county in the first four voting states. And he has served up one strong debate performance after another.
Now, not three months from primary season, rivals concede they have begun to fear Ted Cruz has an increasingly clear path to the Republican nomination.
“Anybody who thinks differently,” said an operative with a rival 2016 campaign, “is lying to you.”
The 2016 field’s reluctantly bullish outlook on Cruz marks a dramatic about-face for Republicans weighing the divisive senator’s odds. For months, Cruz was considered a long shot at best — a hard-line conservative with a niche audience of angry evangelicals, mired in the middle of the polls and, anyway, overshadowed by Donald Trump. Allies of and operatives on campaigns as varied as Jeb Bush’s and Mike Huckabee’s dismissed the Texas senator’s ability to court enough supporters to defeat a more mainstream Republican.
The same Republican rivals who relegated Cruz to a second tier in discussions this past summer now see this insurgent firebrand as the candidate who benefited most from Scott Walker’s exit and the one who stands to gain should Trump or Ben Carson decline. Indeed, Cruz is seen by most of his competition as one of the few likely to still be standing in March.
Cruz is just the latest chapter in this “let’s throw out the old playbook” primary. The staying power was all supposed to belong to Jeb! Bush. The conventional wisdom (which hasn’t been very wise for years now) kept saying that Cruz just couldn’t be nominated. The reasons for that listed above are largely media concoctions, believed only by the establishment Republicans who still listen to the MSM.
It has been no secret to many for months that Cruz has a shot to go deep. Thanks to the “he just can’t get nominated” narrative and the fact that he hasn’t allowed himself to get sucked into any Trump drama, Cruz has been able to put together a nice organization that may not be grabbing poll numbers just yet, but also isn’t making donors jittery.
One last thought. “Evangelicals” is the red flag identifying clueless media and establishment hacks in this cycle. According to both groups, “evangelicals” are responsible for Carson, Cruz, Huckabee and Santorum being able to hang around. They’re the bogeyman under the establishment’s bed because the poor dears have to blame someone for all of their Little Lord Jebleroy plans going so horribly awry.