Conventional thinking dictates that this early in the race, it’s still anyone’s ballgame. Looking at the election flow, campaign statuses, primary matchups, and voter sentiment, the GOP is already faced with a two-man race.
Before going into detail about why Ted Cruz is the only candidate with a real chance of defeating Donald Trump, let’s look at the other candidates to understand their current and future situations.
Marco Rubio had his chance with a strong third place finish in Iowa but fell to a dismal fifth in New Hampshire. The “RoboRubio” concept is going to stick with him through the remainder of the campaign.
John Kasich spent six times more money in New Hampshire than he has remaining in the bank. With under $3 million cash on hand (less than Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson), he will need a massive influx of dollars in the next two weeks just to stay afloat until Ohio in five weeks. Barring fundraising numbers higher in the next two weeks than he’s had in the past six months combined, that’s not going to happen.
Jeb Bush and his super PACs have spent nearly as much as all of the other campaigns combined. The fact that he has a lot of cash on hand (though less than Cruz) and the presence of his super PACs will not be enough to overcome his personality challenges with the electorate. You know it’s bad when his biggest claim to fame so far is that he beat Rubio in New Hampshire by placing fourth.
Chris Christie will likely be out of the race by the time you read this. Despite claims otherwise, Carly Fiorina is in the middle of a job interview for VP, a cabinet position, or a cozy ambassadorship. Ben Carson is preparing for post-campaign life by building up a massive contacts and email list to fuel his future endeavors in case he’s not picked to be a VP or Surgeon General.
This leaves Cruz and Trump.
Cruz Would Win the General Election
The first notion that needs to be dispelled is the idea Ted Cruz couldn’t win the general election. These rumors have been tied to concepts that he’s unlikable, too polarizing, not malleable, and too detached from the Republican Establishment. Those who are old enough to remember may recognize these exact complaints about another candidate that was deemed likely to ruin the party: Ronald Reagan in 1980. In fact, some of the same players attacking Reagan back then such as Bob Dole and President Bush are saying the exact same things about Cruz today.
He has the ethical fortitude, strong moral values, and a history of keeping promises that run in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton. Her reputation of poor ethics makes Cruz the ideal candidate against her. If it turns out that Bernie Sanders is the nominee, Cruz is the ideological opposite of the socialist Democrat. Again, Cruz is the ideal foil to his liberal antics.
To those who have somehow fallen for the idea that moderates win general elections, it should be noted that the Democrats learned this wasn’t the case two elections ago while the Republicans still promote the concept. If you look at every election since the 1970s, the winner is almost always the one who runs the furthest to the right or left. Barack Obama was further to the left than Mitt Romney or John McCain were to the right. George W. Bush ran a campaign that was further to the right (though he turned out to not be a fiscal conservative) than John Kerry or Al Gore ran to the left. Bill Clinton was more extreme than Bob Dole or George H. W. Bush. The one exception to this rule is the elder Bush who beat a more extreme Michael Dukakis, but this had less to do with his stances than the idea of a third Reagan term.
As far as beating Donald Trump, Cruz needs Republicans to comprehend the apocalyptic demise of the GOP if Trump is the nominee. Today, the media is taking it easy on Trump. Mainstream media is the left-wing PR team for the Democrats. They have plenty of “juice” they’ll be able to use against Trump, but they dare not unveil any of it until he has secured the nomination. Once he does, they will unleash hell. They will roll out investigative reports that paint Trump as a dirty, greedy tyrant. They will run interview after interview with women, minorities, former business partners, and anyone else who hates him and who will make him seem like evil incarnate. If he gets the nomination, they will make the attacks against Romney in 2012 or Bush in 2004 seem like firecrackers compared to the napalm they’ll drop on Trump.
From the mainstream media’s perspective, Trump is their only hope of getting a sleazy politician like Clinton or an insane socialist like Sanders into the White House. That’s their ultimate goal. That’s why they’re barely scratching Trump’s surface. They hate him, but they’re saving their big guns for the general election.
Cruz vs Trump for the Nomination
Looking at the primary and caucus schedule, Cruz is the only candidate who has a chance of taking down Trump. Rubio had a chance, but there’s a reason why no GOP candidate in decades has lost Iowa and New Hampshire only to come back and win the nomination. Rubio needed the momentum in Iowa to carry over to a first or second place finish in New Hampshire so he could win or come in second in South Carolina. That’s not going to happen anymore.
Cruz has a much more clear path. If he does well in South Carolina and Nevada, he can take the lead during the “SEC Primaries” on March 1. They include Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other states that would favor Cruz if he has support from the other candidates’ supporters. The other candidates have no chance of winning in most of these states, which means that continuing to support them is essentially handing them to Trump.
If Trump isn’t stopped on March 1, he’s pretty much guaranteed the nomination. The only person who has a chance of stopping him is Ted Cruz. With the support of Republicans who currently prefer other candidates, Cruz’s chance of stopping Trump becomes a likelihood.
If Republicans don’t unite behind Ted Cruz, Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee and either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders WILL win the White House. The other candidates simply do not have what it takes to defeat him. Only Cruz has the principles, infrastructure, ground game, and cash on hand to defeat Trump and return the Presidency to the Republicans.