Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has made frontrunner Donald J. Trump’s electability a staple in his speeches and has supplanted policy positions with the argument on the stump. I’ve repeatedly argued–and correctly so–that head-to-head presidential election polls taken prior to Labor Day have very little predictive value. Thus, I want to say off the bat that I wouldn’t find this data significant or newsworthy at all save for the fact it contradicts Sen. Cruz’s entire narrative.
Internal polls conducted for the Republican National Committee (RNC) show Republican Senate candidates in key swing states get shellacked up and down the ballot with Sen. Cruz at the top of the ticket. The survey data, which was leaked to The New York Times, shared with People’s Pundit Daily and conducted prior to Mr. Trump’s Michigan and Mississippi wins, show Republican-held Senate seats in Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin, all flip to Democrats. In all but Ohio, the races are outside the margin of error.
The seats that are currently held by moderate Sens. Mark Kirk, Ill., Kelly Ayotte, N.H., and Rob Portman, Wis., are pivotal in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans won the majority in the 2014 midterm elections, when voter turnout was far lower than previous midterm and presidential cycles. However, as I’ve also argued following the midterm elections (again correctly), turnout didn’t impact the result, despite what Democrats would have Republicans and the media believe.
But demographics did and do matter, a lot. The same is true of turnout on both sides, which will play an enormous role in November. That’s Ted Cruz’s ultimate problem and the fundamental reason why he performs so poorly in these battleground states. Republican candidates also lose in open and competitive U.S. Senate seats in Florida, Nevada and Colorado with Sen. Cruz at the top of the ticket, putting control of the U.S. Senate firmly in Democratic hands.
As we’ve seen in the Republican primary, Sen. Cruz has performed substantially poorer than expected in the South, where Mr. Trump has defeated him on his own turf. He has performed stronger than expected in certain regions of the country, such as Idaho and Kansas, but largely with voters that reside in already deeply red states.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., is the only safe Republican incumbent with either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the top of the ticket. Now, there are certain assumptions made in these surveys that public polls do not make, the most significant appears to be a unified party. National public polls show Sen. Cruz performs better than the frontrunner against presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, though that’s not really true in battleground states anymore.
A new [content_tooltip id=”37972″ title=”SurveyUSA Poll”] Poll, which is among the highest rated poll on the PPD Pollster Scorecard, showed only Mr. Trump defeating Mrs. Clinton in the Sunshine State.
If Sen. Cruz hopes to be more than a well-financed Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee, as others have suggested he truly is, then he will need to pull off some surprises in the March 15 states, including North Carolina, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and Florida. But Sen. Cruz can potentially demonstrate exactly that in Missouri or Illinois today. North Carolina, despite its demographic-friendly composition, is a heavy lift for him. Every single border county in neighboring Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia voted heavily for Mr. Trump by wide margins.
As of now, Sen. Cruz has lost and performed poorly in all the states that will turn into a battleground in November, save for Iowa. He has shown signs of doing so in Michigan by topping Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but still ran a distant second to Mr. Trump.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump trails Hillary Clinton nationwide in this internal survey by just 1 point, while Sen. Cruz loses in a 9-point blowout. With Mr. Trump at the top of the ticket, Republicans keep their seats in Florida (vs. generic Democratic candidates), Ohio, New Hampshire, with toss-ups within the margin of error in Nevada, Wisconsin, Colorado. Perhaps that’s why internal Republican Senatorial Committee memos have been suggesting that candidates adopt Mr. Trump’s supposedly offensive mannerisms.
Food for thought. Nevertheless, President Obama’s approval rating, which has far more predictive value than head-to-head polls at this point in the cycle, has now reached a 3-year high. With the exception of George W. Bush in 2000, opposition party candidates historically are defeated by in-party candidates when the incumbent president’s approval rating is at current levels. Worth noting, the reason W. shocked the pundit class and defeated Al Gore that cycle was because he was successful at unifying his party and bring back the nationalistic “America First” voters that had backed Ross Perot in the prior two elections.
With the former, the frontrunner if he were to win the Republican nomination has a good deal of work to do. The latter, however, appears to be “mission accomplished.” Ironically, Sen. Cruz has the exact opposite challenge and, according to PPD’s Election Projection Model, will come up roughly 6 million votes shy if he doesn’t have similiar success among this demographic.