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
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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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