Last week Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first candidate from either party to officially announce a run for the presidency. Considered a dark horse nationally, Cruz launched his campaign first in a, what appears to be successful, bid to gain more attention before other candidates declare.
Standing in front of a full house at Liberty University, Cruz delivered the lines that his three years in Congress are well-known now by friend and foe alike. He thundered about repealing “every word of Obamacare,” about “abolishing the IRS” and about “securing our border.”
Statements like this have helped Cruz present himself as the most conservative candidate in the race, which has also made Cruz one of the more polarizing individuals running for the Oval Office this election cycle.
Pundits on the Left and the Right predict that Cruz will struggle mightily in 2016, whether that be because of his role in the government shutdown, his uncompromising rhetoric or his lack of big donor support.
Student views at Southern Miss tended to fall in line with the conventional wisdom of national punditry.
“Sen. Cruz doesn’t have a chance, in my opinion, of even taking the GOP primary,” said senior English major Mary Beth Wolverton. “(And even if he did) he won’t appeal to moderates and others on the fence whose vote the Republican Party needs to win an election.”
Other students think that the Texas senator at least has a shot at winning the Republican primary.
“Ted Cruz does have a chance at winning the primary,” said Austin Howell, a senior economics major.
“He is charismatic, and his policies can be popular among the Republican base. But, if he were to win the primary, he has no chance of winning the general election (because) his opinions are too far from the center. I compare him to a modern Barry Goldwater.”
For the unaware, Goldwater was a senator from Arizona – considered by many the father of the modern day conservative movement – whose 1964 run for president crashed and burned, in large part due to a perception that he was too right-wing.
Nathan Barron, a freshman political science major, gave an in-depth analysis of Cruz’s chances.
“In order to win the primary, Cruz will have to claim crucial GOP endorsements, which he has failed to do so far,” Barron said.
“Cruz is eighth in every important poll and he isn’t even the clear choice among evangelicals, (one of) his primary demographics. Ted Cruz will lose the GOP primary because he does not energize the base and cannot mobilize the conservatives.”
Barron’s forecast for Cruz’s chances, if he made it out of the primary, was quite grim as well. “Hillary Clinton’s centrist appeal, expansive fundraising base and political infrastructure would devour any chance of a Cruz presidency,” he said.
Students and pundits are in lockstep regarding Ted Cruz’s chances in the elections this upcoming year, and those chances are nil.
All that being said, Cruz has been here before.
“I was at 2 percent in the polls, and the margin of error was 3 percent,” he recently joked when talking about the start of his senate run. He has surprised people before, and maybe he will again.