As Evangelicals Lose Faith In Cruz, His Campaign Could Be Beyond Resurrection

Mar 1, 2016

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/AP

By Jessica Taylor

The crux of Ted Cruz’s campaign has long been mobilizing the Christian right to his side, working to galvanize enough evangelical voters to topple Donald Trump.

The Texas senator even launched his campaign at Liberty University, which claims to be the world’s largest Christian college, declaring that “God isn’t done with America yet.”

Cruz talks with the cadence of a megachurch pastor, and exhortations of his faith are a mainstay at every campaign rally. His strategy in targeting the most conservative religious voters worked in Iowa, but the wheels came off in South Carolina and Nevada.

Now, if he can’t fully convert religious voters in many critical Southern states set to vote on Super Tuesday, his campaign could be beyond resurrection.

“I think for him to continue to lose evangelical votes to Donald Trump is a fatal blow to the rationale for his campaign,” said Bruce Haynes, a GOP strategist and president of the bipartisan consulting firm Purple Strategies. “He speaks openly of the relevance of his candidacy in churches and has openly identified that a key part of their winning strategy is evangelical voters. That’s his base, but he’s not carrying that base.”

Cruz Battling Trump And Rubio For Evangelical Voters

The so-called SEC primary runs through states that are likely to have even more evangelical voters than the states that have voted so far. Cruz himself has only raised expectations about Super Tuesday, calling it “the most important day in this entire cycle.”

According to 2012 exit polls, in Alabama 80 percent of GOP primary voters described themselves as evangelical. In Tennessee, 68 percent of Republican voters were born-again Christians. And in Georgia, 68 percent of primary voters four years ago were evangelicals.

Those states could have higher evangelical turnout than states that have already voted this year, according to 2016 exit poll data. In Iowa, 64 percent of GOP caucusgoers were evangelical, while in South Carolina 72 percent described themselves as born-again. Those numbers were up from four years ago. Super Tuesday states could see a record number of voters, including more evangelical voters, go to the polls.

With a heavy ground game, Cruz won 34 percent of evangelical voters in the Hawkeye State; Trump got 22 percent, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio captured 21 percent. In South Carolina, though, Cruz finished third behind Rubio and lost the evangelical vote to Trump by 6 points, 33 percent to 27 percent. Rubio again got almost a fourth of that voting bloc though.

Now, just hours away from Super Tuesday, polls show Cruz’s grasp on evangelical voters slipping away from him even more. And it’s complicated by a rising Rubio, who is now getting nearly as much of the evangelical vote as Cruz is in some places.

“Cruz is basically splitting the evangelical vote with Trump, and Rubio’s getting a share of that too,” said Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls released Sunday showed Trump easily beating Cruz in Tennessee and in Georgia. In Tennessee, that’s fueled by a 15-point edge for Trump among white evangelicals and, in the Peach State, the bombastic billionaire is winning those voters by 8 points. Cruz does have a lead over Trump in his home state of Texas in those same surveys and wins evangelical voters there by 23 points.

The biggest loss for Cruz could come in Alabama, a state where 80 percent of GOP primary voters four years ago identified as evangelical. A Monmouth University poll released Monday showed Trump winning 42 percent of voters, while it was Rubio in second with 19 percent followed by Cruz with 16 percent. The split of evangelical voters in that survey follows the same trajectory — 43 percent for Trump, 18 percent for Rubio and 15 percent for Cruz.

The Texas senator got another blow on Sunday when Alabama’s senior senator, Jeff Sessions, endorsed Trump over him. Cruz has frequently invoked his work and relationship with Sessions on the trail, particularly on immigration. But the hard-line conservative chose to throw his support behind Trump, and not his fellow senator.

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7 comments on “As Evangelicals Lose Faith In Cruz, His Campaign Could Be Beyond Resurrection

  • 1
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    The most prominent trait of Ted Cruz’ personality is that he is a pathological liar. Once challenged in an interview as to why he didn’t start paying the Church tithes (10% of one’s earnings I believe) up until recently, he answered that back in the day, he had just gotten married and he and his wife (who incidentally was already working for Goldman Sachs at the time and earning good money) were “struggling” and “working on their first child”, blabla…..

    Facts demonstrated that in the period of time that Cruz was referring to, he and his wife already had millions. If anybody could afford to pay tithes, it was them. My take is that Cruz is only deeply religious when it suits his agenda, which is to take away the rights of women, LGBT and minorities and completely do away with the religious freedom of non-Christians.

    I find this hypocrite even more despicable and dangerous than Trump. If his campaign is beyond resurrection as the article states, then that is good news for America, even if it means Trump winning the nomination. It is depressing to see how Republican candidates range from really bad to totally appaling and seem to be getting worse from one election cycle to the next.

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  • US Democrats have an organised system so they can vote in US candidate selections.
    Republicans have nothing organised for them, and have to make individual arrangements. –
    I suppose those are characteristics which might be expected!
    Polling booths have opened in the UK for US expats wishing to vote for a Democratic presidential candidate.

    The organisation Democrats Abroad has opened stations in Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh and St Andrews on so-called Super Tuesday.

    Democrats Abroad is treated as a state and will send a similar quantity of delegates to the Democrat National Convention as Wyoming and Alaska.

    Republican voters can only participate via individual absentee ballots.

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  • @NearlyNakedApe #1
    Mar 1, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    The most prominent trait of Ted Cruz’ personality is that he is a pathological liar.

    As I pointed out a week or two ago, the mendacity in Republican politics in the last decade or so is astounding. They used to try and back pedal from lies they were caught out in by saying “I misspoke” and now they don’t even bother to do that. I wouldn’t single out just Cruz though. Trump is very likely an atheist despite his claims of religiosity and lying both about his wealth and his business acumen. Carson is clearly delusional in general with the grain store pyramids and other nonsense so I wouldn’t expect much of what he says to be true anyway.

    Politifact’s truth checking of the main candidates in December is here.

    Carson had only 1 out of 25 statements analysed that was considered mostly true. The other 96% were anywhere from half true to blatantly false. Trump was only 7% mostly true. Cruz was 21% true or mostly true. Rubio was 38% true or mostly true. By far the most honest was Jeb Bush at 48% true or mostly true.

    Honesty seems to be completely unimportant now in American politics. Ignoring Carson who is deranged and never had any chance of nomination it is by far the most mendacious candidate who is leading the pack.

    As for the Democrats, Clinton was rated 51% true or mostly true and Sanders 47%.

    If we strip out the statements that were considered half true or better to leave just the mostly false, false or blatantly false ones then the scores are as follows.

    Clinton 28% false
    Sanders 32% false
    Bush 31% false
    Rubio 39% false
    Cruz 67% false
    Trump 74% false
    Carson 84% false

    I’m somewhat surprised to see that Clinton is actually slightly more honest than Sanders but the mendacity of Cruz, Trump and Carson beggars belief. Bush and Rubio are clearly too honest to be real Republicans and perhaps they should just have lied more. It seems to be working for Trump.

    What it says about the electorate who apparently just don’t care is terrifying. I’m sure they will get the Republican candidate they deserve though.

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