In presidential primaries, it’s a truism that early polling isn’t destiny. This particular truism ought to be especially comforting for Sen. Ted Cruz, whose numbers thus far have been unequivocally miserable.
Let’s have a look. The RedState presidential power rankings, which ought to be required reading for those interested in how conservatives see the current state of the 2016 horse race, put the outspoken Texan in seventh place this week, tailing fellow Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, as well as former Fox News host and female-swearing-disapprover Mike Huckabee. Leon Wolf, who writes the rankings, called Cruz's numbers “especially disappointing” in Virginia and South Carolina—states with particularly conservative primary voters where the firebrand would need to perform smashingly to nab the nomination.
Dubbing those numbers “disappointing” seems generous. In the Christopher Newport University poll of Virginia Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters, the Texan got a measly 3 percent, losing to Rep. Paul Ryan, who more than two weeks before the CNU poll specifically said he wouldn’t run. On top of that, only 1 percent of South Carolina voters chose Cruz in a recent NBC News/Marist poll. Newsmax reported that Cruz got a “rock star reception” at a South Carolina Tea Party event this January. Maybe South Carolinians don't like rock stars.
That doesn’t mean they’ll be bleak forever. Cruz has oodles of time to court Republican primary voters, and he’s won a national fundraising base thanks to his vocal opposition of the Affordable Care Act and comprehensive immigration reform. He’s also shown an ability to work across the aisle, supporting Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on legislation that would change how the military handles sexual assault cases. Still, it’s surprising that such a demonstratively conservative senator would be lagging behind presidential-politick nonentities like Rick Santorum and Paul Ryan.