Scott Rasmussen: Politicians hate Cruz: Will that help or hurt?
As Sen. Ted Cruz has become a serious contender for the Republican presidential nominating contest, he’s facing greater scrutiny and opposition. That’s to be expected.
Some of the opposition is fairly traditional. Iowa’s governor just attacked Cruz for opposing ethanol subsidies. Cruz opposes the subsidies because he doesn’t believe the federal government should be picking business winners and losers. Politically, that’s a big deal in a state where corn is a major crop and those federal subsidies prop up the price of corn.
But there’s another line of attack building against Cruz that is more puzzling. His colleagues really hate him.
A recent New York Times op-ed played upon this theme in the context of a job interview. What if you interviewed someone who was brilliant, energetic, and made a great presentation? But then, what if you found out his colleagues disliked him? Actually, “they loathe him.” The columnist, Frank Bruni, concludes that you would never hire such a person.
Bruni sees this as the case with the senator from Texas. “Many politicians rankle peers. Many have detractors. Cruz generates antipathy of an entirely different magnitude.” Some believe he is arrogant and others say he’s too interested in self-promotion. Bruni believes these negative references should disqualify the candidate from serious consideration.
There’s no doubt that Cruz is disliked by his Senate colleagues. A Politico headline proclaimed that “As Cruz Rises, GOP Senators Rally for Rubio.” Many, perhaps most, observers of the political scene have now come around to seeing Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio as the likely finalists for the GOP nomination. Given that choice, Washington politicians and Republican big money donors would overwhelmingly prefer Rubio.
The problem with the job interview analogy is that you usually check references from sources you trust. Many voters who will take part in the nominating process dislike the GOP establishment brand of politics even more than Establishment politicians dislike Cruz. Why would they consider such politicians as a reliable reference?
Voters tend to see politics and politicians as corrupt. Most assume that those in Congress routinely trade votes for cash and are more interested in serving lobbyists than voters. Washington politics in general are seen as embracing Wall Street while ignoring Main Street. No matter how bad something is, voters believe Congress can always find a way to make it worse.
People with such attitudes might have an entirely different view of why his colleagues hate Ted Cruz. Perhaps some will see him as a heroic cop courageously breaking up a dangerous criminal gang. Other voters might see the hatred from other politicians as a sign that Cruz really is a threat to the status quo. He makes them mad because he wants to ruin their club rather than be part of it.
There’s a long way to go in this campaign and nobody really knows who will emerge as the GOP nominee. Six months ago, if you had told me that the finals would be between Cruz and Rubio, my expectation would have been for Rubio to win handily. Now, while I would still give a slight edge to Rubio, it’s a much tougher call. And, if Cruz is able to show that he’s hated by other politicians for all the right reasons, voters just might hire him.