Cruz Gets a Bump

I don’t know if there’s some political science theory that explains this, but it’s increasingly clear in the early going for 2016 that the GOP rank-and-file are ready to give some eager love to presidential wannabes who simply make a big splash. First there was the explosion of support for Scott Walker largely based on media coverage of one big speech he gave in Iowa. And now Ted Cruz is harvesting the attention he gained from a surprise early formal announcement for president to rapidly increase his base of support, according to Public Policy Polling:

PPP’s newest Republican national poll finds that Ted Cruz has the big momentum following the official announcement of his candidacy last week. His support has increased from 5% to 16% in just over a month, enough to make him one of three candidates in the top tier of GOP contenders, along with Scott Walker and Jeb Bush.

Seems Cruz has gotten most of his support from “very conservative” voters who were earlier expressing affection for Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee. The former has been getting almost exclusively negative press of late, and the latter’s been off on a book tour.

We’ll soon see if Carson or Huckabee can get some of this support back, or if it’s leeched away by Scott Walker, or if Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal or Rick Santorum or some combination of them can poach on it with their own announcement events. All I’ll say at this point is that it sure looks like a different nominating contest dynamic with someone clearly on top of the hard-core conservative pile than without it. A more divided right-wing vote keeps Jeb Bush at or near the top, which in turn probably helps Scott Walker to the extent that he’s seen as both more conservative and more electable than Jebbie. And then, as PPP notes, don’t forget about Marco Rubio, who’s lurking back of the pack with very nice approval ratings, waiting for somebody to screw up.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.