Ted Cruz Unskews the Polls

The Texas Republican rolls out his own poll and tells the GOP to ignore all the rest.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greets a young boy during a prayer vigil organized by the Christian Defense Coalition outside the White House last month.
National Journal
Alex Seitz Wald
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Alex Seitz-Wald
Oct. 9, 2013, 2:18 p.m.

Don’t worry, Ted Cruz is telling his fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans, about that new Gal­lup Poll show­ing that the GOP’s fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing has sunk to an all-time low. And ig­nore the Na­tion­al Journ­alWash­ing­ton PostCBS NewsAPCNN, and Pew sur­veys show­ing that Amer­ic­ans are mostly blam­ing Re­pub­lic­ans for the gov­ern­ment shut­down.

Those are all wrong, the Texas sen­at­or is telling his GOP col­leagues, be­cause he has his own poll, and it shows the GOP is win­ning.

As Dav­id Druck­er re­ports at The Wash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner, Cruz ar­gued to Re­pub­lic­ans at a closed-door lunch on Wed­nes­day that the cam­paign he led to shut­down the gov­ern­ment over Obama­care has bolstered the GOP’s polit­ic­al po­s­i­tion, rather than hurt it. Cruz says he knows this be­cause he paid for his own poll, con­duc­ted by his own par­tis­an poll­ster, who was on hand to ex­plain the res­ults to his skep­tic­al col­leagues.

Des­pite all that, the poll was not much ro­si­er than all pub­lic polls, show­ing that the pub­lic blames Re­pub­lic­ans for the shut­down by a 7 point mar­gin.

To Cruz, as Druck­er writes, this shows that “Re­pub­lic­ans are in a much bet­ter po­s­i­tion than they were dur­ing the 1995 shut­down be­cause this im­passe is defined by a dis­agree­ment over fund­ing for the Af­ford­able Care Act as op­posed to a gen­er­al dis­agree­ment over gov­ern­ment spend­ing.”

Maybe Cruz is right, and maybe Re­pub­lic­ans are “win­ning,” and maybe his poll­ster is bet­ter than every­one else’s. Maybe.  

But if not, then he’s fall­ing vic­tim to same fal­lacy Re­pub­lic­ans ran in­to lead­ing up the 2012 elec­tion, when Mitt Rom­ney was re­portedly so con­vinced that he was go­ing to win that he didn’t even both­er writ­ing a con­ces­sion speech. The na­tion­al pub­lic opin­ion data was pretty clearly show­ing the op­pos­ite, but some on the right stuck to the echo cham­ber, where the polls were un­skewed and the vibes were good, lead­ing to Dick Mor­ris pre­dict­ing as late as 8 p.m. on elec­tion night that Rom­ney would still win big, and later to an on-screen melt­down from Karl Rove when Rom­ney lost Ohio.

The fancy word for this is “epi­stem­ic clos­ure,” but ba­sic­ally it means only be­liev­ing what you want to be­lieve and ig­nor­ing the rest. That may be why Cruz thought that Barack Obama would ever agree to de­fund his sig­na­ture le­gis­lat­ive ac­com­plish­ment. Or think­ing, as a large num­ber of Re­pub­lic­an law­makers seem to, that fail­ing to raise the debt ceil­ing would be no big deal.

But un­like the elec­tion, if Cruz is wrong and breach­ing the debt ceil­ing is as cata­stroph­ic as most eco­nom­ists are pre­dict­ing, this time the whole coun­try loses.

What We're Following See More »
Morning Consult Poll: Clinton Decisively Won Debate
22 hours ago

"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."

Trump Draws Laughs, Boos at Al Smith Dinner
1 days ago

After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."

McMullin Leads in New Utah Poll
1 days ago

Evan McMul­lin came out on top in a Emer­son Col­lege poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clin­ton took third with 24%. Gary John­son re­ceived 5% of the vote in the sur­vey.

Quinnipiac Has Clinton Up by 7
1 days ago

A new Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll finds Hillary Clin­ton lead­ing Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” van­ished from the uni­versity’s early Oc­to­ber poll. A new PPRI/Brook­ings sur­vey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a vir­tu­al dead heat, with Trump tak­ing 41% of the vote to Clin­ton’s 40% in a four-way match­up.

Trump: I’ll Accept the Results “If I Win”
1 days ago

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.