Ted Cruz Is Losing His Grip on the GOP

Early presidential polling doesn’t tell you much about 2016. But a steep drop in support for the Texas Republican shows he may need another filibuster.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas attends a hearing on sequestration effects on military budget and spending before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 7, 2013.
National Journal
Matt Berman
Add to Briefcase
Matt Berman
Jan. 16, 2014, midnight

Hid­den in a new NBC News/Mar­ist poll on Chris Christie are some pretty bleak num­bers for Sen. Ted Cruz.

The poll asked Re­pub­lic­ans and Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing in­de­pend­ents who, if they were vot­ing today, they’d sup­port in a 2016 GOP pres­id­en­tial primary. Christie came in first with 16 per­cent sup­port, fol­lowed by Rep. Paul Ry­an, R-Wis. (12 per­cent), Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (9 per­cent), former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush (8 per­cent), and Sen. Marco Ru­bio, R-Fla. (7 per­cent).

You’ll no­tice Cruz — who was in the top five in dis­tant Decem­ber, 2013 — is miss­ing from that list. That’s be­cause the Texas Re­pub­lic­an, who briefly led the GOP pack in at least one poll fol­low­ing his 21-hour Septem­ber Sen­ate floor speech, dropped from 10 per­cent sup­port in Decem­ber to 5 per­cent sup­port in Janu­ary. If Chris Christie doesn’t run, Ted Cruz is still not a top five choice, be­ing beat out by the likes of Rick San­tor­um. The poll does have a 5 per­cent mar­gin of er­ror among Re­pub­lic­an voters though, so good news for Cruz is, he could really be back up at 10. Or, you know, all the way down to zero.

This bears re­peat­ing: 2016 polls so far out are really, really silly for try­ing to get a good sense of who is go­ing to win come Elec­tion Day. In the NBC News/Mar­ist poll, a quarter of GOP voters are un­de­cided. But these new num­bers do show just how fleet­ing polit­ic­al crushes can be.

Def­in­itely don’t bet against Cruz re­gain­ing some of that fall 2013 fire ahead of a pos­sible pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. But right now, he seems to be drift­ing away from the radar.

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